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SCRAMBLE FOR DRUGS SUPPLY HEATS UP

By ADRIAN MWANZA

A SCRAMBLE for drug supply contracts has heated up with cooperatives being formed by “politically connected” individuals who want to cash in on the crisis.

The cooperatives are being formed to replace some alleged discredited suppliers.

This follows revelations that, all existing supply contracts had been canceled, regardless of legitimacy and propriety in procurement, resulting in the current critical shortage of drugs.

And former Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia (PSAZ) President Jerome Kanyika has said there was need for the Anti-Corruption Commission of Zambia to look into the matter because there was too much irregularity as a team of Zambia Medicines and Medical Agency (ZMMSA) had actually travelled to Egypt where they went to look for drugs.

He said it was not in order for ZMMSA to go and look for drugs and getting quotations from various firms but to oversee the smooth operations of the agency.

Mr Kanyika said that it was for this reason that local pharmaceutical firms had petitioned the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supply Authority (ZMMSA) over the abrogation of tender processes.

He said that a number of Pharmaceutical firms had petitioned the two institutions which made it impossible for them to procure medicines because by law the tenders are cancelled.

He said that   the firms felt sidelined by ZMMSA  who had allegedly overlooked them and only considered foreign based entities.

Mr Kanyika said the petition was also the reason there was a shortage of drugs in the country as they could not acquire the medicines.

Mr Kanyika said that there was need for the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) to investigate the new ZMMSA board which had allegedly travelled to Egypt to solicit for drugs in that country.

He said it was wrong because they had not done a tender to indicate that they wanted to buy any medicines, making the Egypt trip rather awkward.

“The ACC should move in and investigate this. As you are aware, there has been no time the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) did a tender to indicate the purchase of medicines,” he said.

Mr Kanyika said it was not even the jurisdiction of the ZMMSA board to go outside the country to start looking for drugs.

He said the board was also going to wholesale pharmaceuticals to get quotations from them which was totally wrong.

“The ZMMSA Board cannot travel abroad to get medicines.  What they need is to submit a tender so that interested individuals can apply and not what we are seeing at the moment where they have to physically travel abroad,” he said.

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