Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya says Zambia will start manufacturing ARVs locally starting next year.

And Dr Chilufya has directed health facilities across the country to stop allocating specific days to ART related services in a bid to fight stigma.

Responding to a question from Luena UPND member of parliament David Kundoti who wanted to know when government was planning to start manufacturing ARVs locally, Dr Chilufya said that government had already identified companies that would produce ARVs and other drugs locally.

“Madam Speaker as the President had put it in his address to parliament directing the Ministry of Health together with the Ministry of Commence Trade and Industry to ensure that local manufacturing of drugs including ARVs was enhanced. So what will happen is that in conjunction with relevant ministries, we are going to look at measures that will help reduce taxes on raw material that are used in the production of ARVs and other drugs so that the cost of production is lowered and already there are companies that have built infrastructure and are ready to start manufacturing these drugs by next year.” Dr Chilufya said.

“So the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority, ZAMRA, has received some dossiers from certain companies that are interested in taking up the challenge of manufacturing ARVs locally and so government is already putting in measures that will ensure that the production of ARVs and other drugs start as soon as possible.”

And Dr Chilufya said he had directed health facilities across the country to stop allocating specific days to ART related services in a bid to fight stigma.

He was responding to a question from Moomba member of parliament Fred Chaatila who wanted to find out what government was doing to ensure that it fought stigma that came about as a result of having a specific day allocated to ART.

“Madam Speaker we have started fighting stigma in the way we deliver health care service in our facilities as much as possible so as to try and ensure that sigma is cut off completely. And we have introduced integrated services in the health sector. What I mean Madam Speaker is that services in all our health facilities will be offered in an integrated manner, meaning that we do not want days to be allocated to specific services where a day will be labeled as an ARV day or this is an antenatal day, so what I meant by saying we will fight stigma by introducing integrated service is that members of the public can go to the clinic at any time of the day and access whatever service be it ARVs , antenatal or indeed for anything other service,” said Dr Chilufya.

“In this way, Madam Speaker, we will be providing services like what we would call a super market approach where you can walk in and pick whatever you want so this is one way we are fighting stigma.”

Meanwhile, Dr Chilufya told parliament that government had acquired an additional $12 million from the Indian government to help complete the 650 heath post in Muchinga, Northern, Luapula and Eastern provinces.