Egypt pharma deal to bear fruit for Zim
Mukudzei Chingwere in CAIRO, Egypt
A medical co-operation agreement between Zimbabwe and Egypt is expected to start bearing fruit within the next few weeks through the importation of medical drugs.
The development is expected to result in a substantial reduction of prices for medicines.
Vice President and Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Constantino Chiwenga yesterday toured Gypto Pharma, Government’s Egyptian private partner in Intrapharma, with the tour laying bare the state-of- the-art industrial capacity of the Egyptian partner, much to the delight of the Zimbabwe delegation.
VP Chiwenga and his delegation are in Egypt for the Africa Health ExCon at the invitation of the hosts and has since taken advantage of his presence here to tackle economic diplomatic engagements with a view to lure capital back home as informed by President Mnangagwa’s open for business thrust.
The engagements have seen him immersed in multi-sectoral business engagements primarily those in the health services and also straddling energy generation, agriculture and infrastructure development.
Speaking to journalists after his tour of Gypto Pharma Industrial Hub (Gypto Pharma is the Egyptian private pharmaceutical company that Government has partnered), VP Chiwenga said he had been energised by the prospect of the partners replicating what he saw back home.
“I am captivated by the unmatched industrial capacity and use of cutting-edge technology, standing out as a world class project in the production of medicines and vaccines,” said VP Chiwenga. “This is a perfect institution which shows a lot of innovation from the Arab Republic of Egypt government to have this up and going. We want this to come to Zimbabwe as quickly as possible. We have already finalised the first shipment of drugs to come to Zimbabwe,” he said.
Buttressing the point made by VP Chiwenga, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Air Commodore Dr Jasper Chimedza said the drugs shipment alluded to by the VP will see substantial reduction in the price of drugs on the market.
He said the reprieve from these imports will however, not destruct authorities from the national health strategy of developing local pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity as the importation will happen concurrently with the setting up of a joint-venture medicinal manufacturing plant in Victoria Falls.
The manufacturing plant will exceed Zimbabwe’s individual national needs and will be used as a launch-pad for exports into the region which is all part of the national health strategy towards promoting medical tourism and consumables’ exports.
“We have already placed an order for medications which should cover the gap between now and the end of the year,” said Air Commodore Dr Chimedza, “So we should be able to see some medication coming into the country within the coming few weeks.
“We are importing from Egypt because we found out that their drugs are much cheaper than the traditional markets where we were importing from.
“So, we should be seeing a marked reduction of price of drugs, not only for the public hospitals but even in the private sector so the advantage is definitely there.
“And there is a lot of willingness on our Egyptian partners for technology and knowledge transfer.
“But we are not saying we will not be buying drugs from anywhere else (other than Egypt), we still will continue importing drugs from all over the world as and when we require the drugs which are specific to the specific needs of the country.
“But this (Egypt) is a new (source) market that we are opening so that we open up competition and ensure that we do get value for money with the price of drugs in the country.
“… but at the same time (when we are importing)-simultaneously, we are also developing a pharmaceutical industrial park which should be established in Victoria Falls with the aim of not only supplying the Zimbabwe market but also the SADC market which is composed of 300 million people,” he said.
Gypto Pharma Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Amr Mamdouh said his firm was looking forward to the partnership.
“We would really like to work together on how to bring these medicines to Zimbabwe as a step number one and second is how to establish hubs of manufacturing and centres of excellence,” said Mr Mamdouh, “Our vision is for Egyptian patients, for Zimbabwean patients to be free of diseases and to be prevented.”
Earlier Intrapharma Chairman Engineer Ibrahim Ramel paid a courtesy call on VP Chiwenga and his delegation to touch base on the progress made to date.
VP Chiwenga, as per Eng Ramel said, in the meeting, they should not fold their laurels after the shipment of drugs but speed up the construction of a similar park in Zimbabwe.
“We were discussing where do we stand today for the project and what was the way forward,” said Eng Ramel.
“The world now is going with partnerships so it is always fruitful to work with partners, where each part compliments each other.
“Very soon, Zimbabwe will see the medicines I could say in two weeks.
“That construction will start soon as well, we have been directed (by VP Chiwenga) to work hard on that one to see the real work start and that should be soon,” said Eng Ramel.