The European Union and Medical Stores Limited have signed a grant agreement worth EUR 4.8 million to support the establishment of a central warehouse for processing medicines that meet international quality standards.

This is according to a statement issued by MSL public relations manager Patricia Ndulinga on Wednesday.

Speaking during the signing ceremony, EU Ambassador to Zambia Alessandro Mariani said the grant would significantly enhance MSL’s capacity and efficiency to store and distribute medicines.

Ambassador Mariani also said the grant would assist the Ministry of Health (MoH) to improve effectiveness and cost-efficiency of the pharmaceutical supply management system, which would ultimately benefit the health needs of the Zambian people.

He implored MSL to match the investment with effective policy and institutional reforms, adequate management/governance systems in order to ensure that the results were sustainable beyond the lifetime of the HSS Programme.

“It is crucial that this important investment contributes in a sustainable manner towards the improvement in availability and correct use of quality assured medicines. With EU financing under the EUR 18 million funded Health Systems Strengthening Programme (HSSProgramme) we are supporting the Second Phase of the MSL Masterplan for Extension of the Central Warehouse. We expect that our support will contribute to a fully-fledged and operational storage and distribution system at the central warehouse,” said Ambassador Mariani.

Besides the construction of the warehouse, the two-year project will support the establishment of a storage space for hazardous goods, the renovation of existing stores and surroundings as well as the construction of the much needed infrastructures of the warehouse support units.

MSL managing director Chikuta Mbewe, who accepted the grant on behalf of the institution, said it was a major milestone adding that it was an investment which would contribute to Zambia’s development.

“We recognise this huge investment for MSL as we have been grappling with managing the supplies on a daily basis in the midst of the risks associated with wastage and diversion as we operate in scattered offices and warehouses. As such, through this investment, we can expand our current storage facility threefold in terms of capacity which will optimise our opportunity in running MSL in the most productive manner,” said Mbewe.

“The signing of this agreement is will contribute towards improving the quality of lives of the Zambian people across the country as medicines are special for the quality of life of the population. As such we can assure H.E. Mariani and the EUD that the current team at MSL understands that we are a vital institution that needs to operate in the most accountable and transparent manner.”

The support to MSL is part of the broader EUR 18 million funded Health Systems Strengthening Programme (HSSP) which aims at improving the availability and use of good quality medicines for the people of Zambia.