Government has announced plans to setup a K32 billion laboratory to avert the challenge of sending samples overseas for analysis.
Deputy Minister of Health, Patrick Chikusu disclosed this when he conducted a tour of the National Institute for Scientific Research (NISIR) in Lusaka this morning.
Dr. Chikusu said it was costly and unnecessary to send samples overseas adding that he was keen to see the program initiated soon as it would greatly improve service delivery within the country.
He noted that pharmaceutical standards are higher than clinical standards and as such it is vital to ensure that suppliers are reputable.
He further noted that it was important to pre qualify suppliers and set standards that must be followed in terms of safety and quality.
Dr. Chikusu also disclosed that government has a master plan for training of people next month in order to improve their skills.
He added that some health workers tend to find other jobs once their skills improve and for this reason they must be given good salaries to retain them and attract those that have moved away.
Dr. Chikusu said that his ministry was aware that some unscrupulous people were involved in the pilfering of medicines to be sold in the private sector instead of people accessing it for free in government health facilities.
He warned those that were involved in such acts, or were assisting someone, that those found wanting will be punished.
He went on to say that strong restrictions on prescriptions will be put in place to address the issue of drug pilfering in hospitals.
Meanwhile, Pharmaceutical Regulatory Authority (PRA) Director General Esnart Mwape welcomed the support from government.
Mrs. Mwape said infrastructure was one of the challenges the pharmaceutical sector faces and that it was vital to ensure that the planned infrastructure is put in place soon.
She said other challenges the sector faces were in the areas of human and financial resources.
She urged government to ensure that the pharmaceutical sector received adequate support from government.
Mrs. Mwape expressed hope that the planned laboratory would help support research even in herbal medicines.