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Declare DRUGS emergency-ZMA: over persistent shortage of drugs before many more lives are needlessly lost, says Zambia Medical Association

By NAMO PHIRI

Many lives are needlessly being lost and unless Government declares the critical and persistent shortage of drugs in the country, there is a real danger of more lives being lost, the Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) has warned.

Dr Kaumba Tolopu, the secretary general of ZMA says revelations that the national drug stock is currently standing at 53.1 percent should cause government to declare a state of emergency and invoke the disaster management provisions in the emergency procurement of medicines and other medical supplies.

Dr Tolopu has asked Government to deeply introspect over its struggling health policy and give due consideration and declare the continued critical shortage of drugs in hospitals an emergency.

He said in a statement that the drug stock of 53.1 percent, which falls way below the World Health Organisation recommended stock volume availability of 70 – 80 percent should be of great concern to government and should therefore move those making decisions to find means of procuring the drugs in the shortest possible time. 

He said the findings that over the last nine months period under review, essential medicines were only available at 40.2 percent of the time in tertiary and general hospitals and 23.3 percent in rural centres was alarming was not only frightening but alarming.

“Without an emergent approach to this desperate matter of national importance, we believe many lives will be unnecessarily lost, which will be counterproductive to the economic gains made over the past year. On this affront, ZMA would like to remind our lawmakers, policy makers and responsible officers in the line ministry to de-politicise the health sector and reflect on the old adage that, a healthy nation is a wealthy nation, and every life matters,” said Dr Tolopu.

Dr Tolopu said the Parliamentary Committee’s findings that the critical national drug shortage was as a result of insufficient, erratic and inconsistent supplies by the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Agency had vindicated ZMA.

He explained that the revelations by the Parliamentary Committee over the true status of medicines and other medical supplies had vindicated ZMA members who had continued to be vilified and maligned by various government.

Dr Tolopu stated that it was disheartening that government officials been blaming ZMA for the collapse of the supply chain on allegations of pilferage.

He stated that ZMA had taken time to study the special report by the Parliamentary Committee on the availability of medicines and medical supplies in health facilities countrywide, the situation he said needed emergence actions.

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