ZANZIBAR was compelled to secure medicines from private suppliers due to failure by the Medical Stores Department (MSD) to meet its demand, the House of Representatives heard here on Friday.
Health Minister Hamad Rashid Mohamed, responding to the House members’ contributions, dismissed as baseless claims that procurement regulations were flawed in the medical purchase.
“I have communication evidence here from MSD over their incapacity to meet the country’s demand for medicines; the agency can supply only 56 per cent of the demand,” Minister Hamad said while winding up the debate on the ministry’s 2020/2021 budget estimates, which he presented in the house on Thursday.
He said out of the four orders which the ministry had placed with MSD, none was supplied fully.
“We placed an order for medicines worth over 3.2bn/-, for instance, and received 800m/- worth of medicines.”
The minister said the ministry had in the 2019/2020 fiscal year allocated 15.8bn/- for the purchase of medicines, hinting that as of March 2020, 10bn/- had been spent.
He said the procured medicines, medical equipment and reagents had been distributed to all public and health centres in Unguja and Pemba.
The minister argued that the government had to pursue alternative supply sources to rescue the lives of innocent Zanzibaris, saying: “We couldn’t just sit and watch innocent people dying under the pretext of waiting for supplies from MSD.”
He boasted of superb medical supplies in all public health facilities, charging that currently Zanzibar hospitals, health centres and dispensaries enjoy over 92 per cent of medical supplies.
“We are implementing the policy of charge-free medical services by deeds,” he said. Minister Hamad conceded existence of thievery in the medical stores, issuing a stern warning against public servants and medical dealers bent on stealing medicines meant for the public. “Already, we have arrested thieves of our medicines, all of whom we are determined to arrest,” he said, cautioning that all medicines for public hospitals have secret security inscriptions.
Members of the House approved 117.58bn/- for the ministry’s expenditure in the next financial year, with 74.93bn/- and 42.65bn/- allocated to recurrent and development expenditures, respectively.
Out of the allocation, Mnazi Mmoja National Hospital, the country’s major referral facility, will receive 17.35bn/-.