DAR ES SALAAM: THE Medical Stores Department (MSD) has increased its spending on locally produced medicines and medical devices by almost three times.
According to MSD Acting Director General Leopold Shayo, the expenditure rose from 14.1bn/- in the 2021/22 to 39.8bn/- in the last fiscal year.
These revelations indicate a positive trend in the government’s efforts to reduce the importation of medical products, thus saving billions of shillings as well as foreign currency.
Mr Shayo stated on Tuesday that it was encouraging to see an increase in local pharmaceutical production, which has led to an increase in the value of locally procured items.
He made the remarks on Tuesday in Dar es Salaam at a meeting with investors in the pharmaceutical industries in the country.
The meeting titled; ‘Let’s Work Together to Promote Local Production and Use of Health Commodities’ was officiated by the Government Chief Pharmacist, Daudi Msasi, who represented the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr Seif Shekalaghe.
He stated that currently 80 per cent of the department’s budget for procuring drugs and medical devices goes outside the country, while only 20 per cent goes to local manufacturers.
Mr Shayo highlighted MSD’s strategies to enhance local production in the pharmaceutical industry including engaging manufacturers in joint discussions on the best ways to do so.
Speaking at the meeting, Mr Msasi directed the Tanzania Medicines and Medical Devices Authority (TMDA) to ban the importation of medicines and medical devices that are adequately manufactured in the country.
He also directed the MSD to list its needs so that local manufacturers could organise themselves to meet the demand.
Tanzania currently has 18 pharmaceutical industries and the government vows to protect and empower local investors are protected and empowered in order to increase the availability of health products.
“This is in line with the National Development Vision which aims to build a competitive industrial sector. Procuring locally produced products means promoting local production,” he said.
He also mentioned that the government has endorsed signing the African Medicines Agency (AMA) Treaty.
The AMA will be established as a Specialised Agency of the African Union (AU) dedicated to improving access to quality, safe and effective medical products in Africa.
The AMA Treaty was adopted by the AU Assembly on February 11, 2019, and at least 15 member states need to rectify the treaty in their national parliaments, for the AMA to come into force.
“Tanzanian investors in the pharmaceutical industry should take advantage of this opportunity to export their products to over 30 countries in Africa and beyond,” he urged.
He encouraged investors to establish investments that focus on producing competitive products that will secure market in Africa and beyond.
TMDA Acting Director General, Mr Emmanuel Alphonce, stated that 95 per cent of medicines and medical devices in Tanzania’s market meet quality standards.
Mr Alphonce also mentioned that the authority has been empowering local industries to produce quality pharmaceutical goods through government support and training.
Regarding the directive to ban the importation of some locally produced drugs, he said that the authority will soon impose the ban.