TANZANIA — Tanzania’s vice president, Dr. Philip Mpango, has echoed the government’s desire to construct pharmaceutical plants in the country, despite facing opposition from some individuals and institutions.

Dr. Mpango made these remarks yesterday during the laying of the foundation stone for the Medical Stores Department (MSD)-managed gloves plant at Idofi in Njombe Region.

The ceremony was also attended by Deputy Minister for Health, Dr. Godwin Molel, and MSD Director General, Mavere Tukai.

Dr. Mpango’s determination stems from President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s commitment to build factories in the country at any cost, given the shortage of medications and medical equipment.

The construction of these factories will not only increase the availability of medicines and medical equipment but also reduce the reliance on foreign currency for importing health commodities, ultimately decreasing costs.

According to Dr. Mpango, the government currently imports medical pharmaceuticals at a rate of 80% and medical devices at a rate of 90%, resulting in equipment shortages and substantial expenses related to importing medical equipment.

He commended the progress made in implementing the project, which has increased from 30% to 90% since President Samia took office in March 2021.

Dr. Mpango also mentioned that the government is planning to allocate more funds to MSD to build additional factories and warehouses.

Furthermore, Dr. Mpango shared that, following his meeting with President Samia, she directed the Regional Administration and Local Government, through the Rural and Urban Roads Agency (TARURA), to ensure the construction of the factory’s access road at the tarmac level.

Deputy Minister for Health, Dr. Godwin Molel, expressed her commitment to supporting President Samia’s initiatives in the pharmaceutical industry and pledged to continue efforts to ensure the facility begins operations.

According to MSD Director General, Mavere Tukai, the factory has initiated preliminary production and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Once finished, the facility will be capable of producing 20,000 gloves per hour, equivalent to 10,000 pairs of gloves per year, resulting in an annual production of 86,400,000 gloves.

In addition, the MSD has established a subsidiary firm called “MSD Medipharma Manufacturing Company” to assist in the management of health products.

This complements MSD’s other endeavours, which include the implementation, procurement, and distribution of equipment under the Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (CEmONC) programs.

These programs provide vital equipment to 284 facilities, proving to be an effective intervention for pregnant women and newborns dealing with conditions such as severe haemorrhage, infection, persistent blockages, eclampsia, and hypoxia in newborns.

Tanzania’s population, according to the Household and Population Census of 2022, stands at 61.74 million people and is expected to continue growing, thus accommodating the expanding pharmaceutical market.

Regionally, the market opportunity has also expanded with 283.7 million people in the East African Community (EAC) and 380.96 million people in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Additionally, Tanzania’s Medical Stores Department (MSD) has remained the sole supplier of drugs, medical supplies, and laboratory equipment to SADC countries since 2017.

According to Tanzania’s health minister, Ummy Mwalimu, the country hosts 36 companies engaged in manufacturing medical devices, medicines, and other health products.

Eleven of these companies produce medicines, with one operating in the private sector and another in a joint venture between the government and the private sector.

The remaining 26 out of the 36 manufacturers focus on producing medical equipment.

The government is eager to have the private sector play a leading role in strengthening and revitalizing the country’s pharmaceutical sector, aiming to reduce imports from 80% to 50% by 2030

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