PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has tasked the Zimbabwean Parliament to expedite the consideration of health sector bills including the controversial Health Professions Amendment Bill
In his 2021 State Of The Nation Address(SONA) on Thursday, ED said the consideration would help the country to have universal health coverage.
“In the health sector, this session is expected to expedite consideration of The Medical Services Amendment Bill, The Medical Aid Societies Bill and the Health Professions Amendment Bill. This should result a consolidated legislative strategy to achieve Universal Health Coverage and health access and affordable health services to our people,” President Mnangagwa said.
Government made amendments to the Health Professions Act by government in June this year with pharmacists torn between endorsing and rejecting the Bill.
Cabinet had announced that they had considered and approved the Principles for the Amendment of 124 of the Health Professions Act [Chapter 27:19], which were presented by the Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care, Honourable Constantino Chiwenga.
The amendment repeals the entire section 124 (2) (a) of the Health Professions Act with a view to opening up and encouraging investment in the pharmaceuticals industry. Safeguards against practice by unregistered pharmacists are adequately provided for by section 124 sub-section 1 of the Act, to which practitioners and ventures in the industry must adhere to.
Yet the Retail Pharmacists Association chairperson Joselyn Chaibva was quoted saying the move would allow non-practitioners and political players to destroy the integrity and ethics of the profession.
This, the pharmacists said, could result in an influx of fake drugs as non-practitioners would not be concerned about ethics or fear of losing operating licences.
“We are actually baffled as a pharmaceutical board on what the aim of the amendment was and we want to engage with the minister as there seems to be a misunderstanding of what a pharmacist is,” Retail Pharmacists Association chairperson Joselyn Chaibva told NewsDay.
“When we talk about pharmacists, it is not only about a person serving medicine over the counter, but we are talking of quality control standards. My feeling is that if we want to achieve universal health coverage by 2030, the (Health) ministry must invest in local pharmaceutical production and in human resources who work in both private and public institutions.”
Pharmacist Kuda Fumhirwa said: “It’s all about people who just want to displace pharmacists from their profession.
“We just want our 100% full operation not the 51% that we are being told about. It’s one politically powerful person who wants to venture into our line of business.”
One pharmaceutical engineer said the industry should not be run by non-pharmacists.
“Having non-pharmacists handle medicine sabotages our profession. If drugs end up in the wrong hands it becomes deadly,” he said.