The repayment of a US$26 million debt by the government in the form of treasury bills to the National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (NATPHARM) is expected to boost drug supplies in state run health institutions across the country.

The pharmaceutical company was in urgent need of capital injection to restore its long term viability and to safeguard the country’s health delivery system.

Funding challenges which have been hogging the NATPHARM for the past years had left the local health sector in a precarious position.

The pharmaceutical company held its annual general meeting this Thursday (today) where it was revealed the government has finally repaid the US$26 million debt owed to NATPHARM.

The Ministry of Health incurred the debt through charges levied on warehousing and distribution of drugs donated by various cooperating partners, but was failing to service the debt because it was not getting adequate fiscal support from Treasury.

Health and Child Care Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa is optimistic the drug situation in the country is set to improve in the next few weeks as NATPHARM has been recapitalised and Treasury has also introduced a new levy dubbed, ‘Talk, Surf and Save a Life,’ which is being mobilised from five cents deducted for every dollar of mobile airtime and data usage.

NATPHARM board chairperson, Dr George Washaya said the future is now looking bright and the company has commenced construction of a bigger warehouse at Harare Hospital and plans to construct five more warehouses strategically placed across the country in places such as Bulawayo, Gweru and Masvingo are at an advanced stage.

NATPHARM procures drugs in bulk for more than 1 450 health institutions across the country.

The debt owed by government had almost crippled the parastatal’s ability to perform its mandate.

NATPHARM chief executive, Mrs Flora Sifeku said the settlement of the debt will help the parastatal get back on its feet and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has assured the sector that they will be prioritised in getting forex to procure medicines.

NATPHARM is mandated with the procurement, storage and distribution of medicines and medical supplies to public sector health institutions.

The company has now set itself ambitious targets that include increasing availability of basic medicines from the current 40 percent to 100 percent, specialist medicines from almost 0 percent to 100 percent and medical and surgical sundries from the current 6 percent to 100 percent by 2018.