Due to shortage of medical drugs in local health facilities and the devastating threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Edwin Dikoloti has asked the Pharmaceutical Society to come up with strategies to set up medical drug factories in the country.
Dr Dikoloti was addressing the Pharmaceutical Society of Botswana’s 32 Annual Congress in Francistown last week Friday in Francistown. He said the Covid-19 pandemic has devastated medical supply chains in various ways which includes; unpredictable demands, sudden strain on existing logistic systems, and resource requirements which are complex and expensive,” he said.
“This calls upon the Pharmaceutical Society of Botswana and stakeholders to partner with the government of Botswana to develop and invest in strategies and preparedness initiatives that will rapidly get essential medicines to the frontlines, in the process saving response costs and speeding up response times,” he added.
He said despite historical efforts dating back to 30 years ago, including formulation of the National Drug(Medicine) Policy of 2002, Pharmacy Standards of 1996, the enactment of Medicines and Related Substances Act and the establishment of the Pharmacy Board at the Botswana Health Profession Council (BHPC), there is still lack of pharmaceutical manufacturing strategy in Botswana. Dr Dikoloti said the National Drug (Medicines) Policy of 2002 has not been fully implemented, therefore it is paramount to revive the policy to enhance pharmaceutical systems including the strengthening of the national supply chain system through a robust strategy.
“A substantial number of originator medicine patents have expired and thus opening doors for countries like Botswana to earnestly establish long term strategies to manufacture generics based on the expired patents for the benefits of our nations. This will not only improve the health status of the nation but will also go a long way in making Botswana and the pharmacy profession attractive to young Batswana pharmacists,” said Dr Dikoloti.
He said amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the role of the pharmacy profession was brought to the fore and became topical as nations were racing and competing for who would be the first to develop a vaccine.