Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia (PSZ) president Jerome Kanyika says government must explain how it is going to dismantle the K1.2 billion debt owed to medical suppliers in the 2020 national budget.

Reacting to President Edgar Lungu’s speech to Parliament last Friday, Kanyika said as much as he appreciated the efforts being made to expand the Medical Stores hub, the lack of medical stocks in warehouses remained worrisome.

“So, the way the President has put it, it will be very good and prudent that the Minister of Finance should now come out in the open and tell the nation how the next budget is going to help in dismantling the K1.2 billion debt owed to the suppliers so that these [medical] hubs, which are [being] constructed in all provincial headquarters can have the needed commodities (drugs). Having a medical hub is one thing and having the commodity inside is another thing. So, from the President’s speech, it has shown that, yes, there is willingness from the government to make sure that the drugs are made available to the nearest place,” Kanyika said.

He expressed worry at the low medical stocks at the Medical Stores warehouse.

“But the challenge, which we have, and which should be addressed in the (2020) budget is about how we are going to dismantle the K1.2 billion [that] we are owing to the suppliers of drugs. We can have a proper structure with all the necessary machinery that is needed in the warehouse for Medical Stores, but the problem that we may have is when the stocks are not there,” he observed.

And Kanyika commended President Lungu for his commitment to expanding Medical Stores from the current 7,000 capacity to 32,000.

“On pillar five, on health, the President mentioned about the expansion of Medical Stores from 7,000 to 32,000 and also on the construction of a medical hub. It is good that the President mentioned about the Ministry of Energy about making sure that all hospitals and health facilities have 24/7 power supply. That is very good and it is going to prevent the hospitals from blackout in terms of power. Now, coming back to the investment that the government has made in terms of constructing the [medical] hub, we have also appreciated as the Pharmaceutical Society of Zambia over the efforts government has constructed in Muchinga Province, the Copperblt, Eastern, and also in the upgrading of Medical Stores in Lusaka,” said Kanyika.