TANZANIA is now set to start procuring medicines and other medical equipment on behalf of 16 other member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) following an agreement signed in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
The SADC Secretariat and the Medical Stores Department (MSD) inked the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), signaling that any time from now, Tanzania would be procuring the items for the rest of the SADC members.
This comes after the SADC Ministers of Health and Ministers Responsible for HIV and AIDS meeting last year selected the MSD as sole distributor of the items in the region under the Pooled Procurement of Pharmaceutical Services (SPPS) system.
MSD Director General Laurean Bwanakunu remarked that through this system, they would be trading with the big pharmaceutical manufacturers that usually do not sell the medicines to individual countries.
The pharmaceutical pooled procurement which will assist member states to share pricing and supplier information to enable them negotiate for better prices for high quality medicines from suppliers, thereby reducing the administrative costs of procurement significantly.
“As a region, this would enable us buy the medicines at cheaper prices from the manufacturers because we buy in a big quantity,” he explained, adding that for MSD, becoming sole distributor in SADC was a privilege to the country.
He further explained that after the document’s signing, MSD would now receive and procure orders from and for member states.
The MSD would also supervise statistics and information on drugs needed by the SADC member states, as well as provide consultancy to the latter.
After signing the agreement, the SADC Executive Secretary, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, noted that the process to implement the SPPS began in 2015. “It was a very competitive process and Tanzania met the criteria.
It’s a rare opportunity and I call for fast-tracking all procedures to facilitate the operationalisation,” she urged.
She explained that the system required cooperation from the member states and pharmaceutical industries as well. She further called on the media to play their role in promoting the new system.
On his part, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Dr Faraji Mnyepe, pledged his ministry’s support to the implementation of the agreement for the SPPS system in the region.
During last year’s meeting of the SADC Ministers of Health and Responsible for HIV and AIDS, the MSD pointed out that by 19th September 2018, it had signed contracts with a total of 122 manufacturers of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies and that, it expected a price reduction of, as much as 40 per cent for purchases that would be made by member states through the pooled procurement.
On average, the meeting noted, MSD had purchased a total of health commodities worth 500m US dollar during the 2017/18 Financial Year.