The local pharmaceutical industry is pleading with government to allocate more funding for the manufacture and importing of medical drugs to avert what they described as a crisis.

Stakeholders in the pharmaceutical sector told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care that the country’s drug situation is dire and the situation is worsened by the fact that they owe foreign suppliers US$38 million.

The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association also revealed the industry is operating at below 40 percent capacity utilisation.

Pharmaceutical Society of Zimbabwe President Portifer Mwondera says the importation of both essential and mainline drugs has been declining so swiftly that they are not even sure if they will get any supplies in December.

Pharmaceutical Wholesalers Association Chairman Kudakwashe Chapfika says wholesalers owe their foreign suppliers US$32 million, compromising the supply of drugs.

On their demands for payment in foreign currency, Retail Pharmacists Association Chairperson Jocelyn Chaibva says they have no choice because their suppliers demand payment upfront in foreign currency.

The Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo told parliament recently that it is illegal for pharmacies to demand foreign currency for drugs.

Only this Tuesday, the Minister also revealed that a consignment of US$25 million worth of medicines and surgical sundries is on the way from India and is expected to help ease the challenges being faced in the health sector.

The consignment follows an arrangement entered into by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and the Indian government.