Monday, May 27, 2024

Minister Dikoloti allays fears of medicine shortages

In a media briefing on Monday, Botswana’s minister of health and wellness, Dr. Edwin Dikoloti, said that while the country’s drug scarcity “is dire” it will undoubtedly pass. He said Botswana’s partnership with the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) has been fruitful as they had assisted the country with some most required medications a lot quicker.

“I am happy to report that since my last address in November, this collaboration with BCM is bearing fruits. The first consignment comprising cancer medications to the tune of P1.6 million has been received and delivered to the facility,” said Dr. Dikoloti.

He also indicated that another consignment of hypertension medicine, antibiotics and diabetes medicines will be air freighted and arrive end of January.

He also said that Botswana has other partners who continue to assist the ministry of health in sourcing important medicines from across the world. “UNICEF, through a long standing engagement, continues to assist us with child vaccines and other medicines as need be,” said the minister, adding that “the United Nations Office for projects supports my ministry in sourcing TB medications”.

Among other things, he said his ministry has made appeals for the second time to foreign missions.

“In realising the dire state of availability of medicines in the country and the challenges with sourcing towards the end of last year, my ministry made an appeal for the second time to our foreign missions through the ministry of foreign affairs to assist with identifying and connecting us with companies that provide us with medicines. It is through this initiative that one company from India called Medwise was identified and managed to successfully register eighteen products with BOMRA,” he said.

He closed by indicating that the challenge of medicine availability is not unique to Botswana but is a global phenomenon. “There are specific factors that made Botswana more vulnerable. The lack of pharmaceutical manufacturing locally means we import all our medical commodities,” he said, adding that this brings in supply and logistics challenges which were further compounded by Covid-19.

Minister Dikoloti’s ministry has been under fire the last few months over the shortage of medicines. In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered in 2022, President Mokgweetsi Masisi said the shortage of medical supplies was concerning but vowed to address the issue. “The shortage of drugs and other medical supplies in Botswana is of great concern. We are giving this matter our highest attention. As one of the immediate interventions to address the situation, Government has engaged local private entities and pharmacies to help in distributing essential medicines across the country,” said president Masisi in the SONA.

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