MINISTER of Health Dr Jonas Chanda has announced the immediate revocation of the Zambia Medicines and Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) board with a new one set to be appointed soon.

And Dr Chanda has disclosed that the Ministry will soon be consulting the Attorney General on the way forward regarding the Honeybee medical kit supply contract.

During a press briefing, Friday, Dr Chanda noted that ZAMRA has not performed in line with its mandate with regards quality of medical supplies and governance issues.

“The mandate of the Zambia Medicines Regulatory Authority is regulating medicines for public and animal health protection, however, the Zambia Medicines and Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) has not performed in line with its mandate and the expectation of the people of Zambia, government and our stakeholders. This is arising from the recent happenings at the institution, hinging on medicines and supplies quality issues and other governance matters. These happenings are unacceptable, could have been avoided and cannot be condoned. In line with section 7(1) of the Medicines and Allied Substances Act No.3 of 2013, I have today removed all board members from the ZAMRA board and I will be appointing new board members in due course,” he said.

And the Minister added that he would soon consult the Attorney General regarding the way forward on the Honeybee contract.

“The matters to do with issuing or revoking licenses of pharmaceutical suppliers such as Honeybee and others, lies with ZAMRA, that is the mandate of ZAMRA, they issue licenses or they revoke licenses. My Ministry will be consulting the Attorney General regarding the way forward on this contract and the nation will be informed in due course,” he said.

He added that there will be no sacred cows as those who will be found working against the mandate of the Ministry will not be protected.

“Those who are in the health sector and are working against the mandate of the health sector, we will make sure that we fish you out, no one will be protected, there will be no sacred cows because we have a mandate to serve the Zambian people and not to harm them. I urge Zambians and stakeholders to trust us as we embark on a reforming path. I assure you, our works will be anchored on placing our people at the centre of our work,” Dr Chanda said.

“The recent happenings in the health sector have dented the image of the Ministry of Health leading to dampened confidence levels by the public and indeed key stakeholders. We need to change this status as this is not what the Ministry of Health stands for. We need to move with the people of Zambia and not away from the people we are called to serve. The duty of the Ministry of health is to promote quality health services to all leaving no one behind and doing no harm to any.”

Meanwhile, Dr Chanda further announced that he signed the commencement order putting into effect the Zambia Medicines and Medical Supplies Agency, Act No.9 of 2019, replacing Medical Stores Limited with ZAMSA, a statutory body.

“On 12th November 2019, the Zambia Medicines and Medical supplies agency, Act number 9 of 2019 was enacted which provided for the establishment of the Zambia medicines and medical supplies Agency (ZAMSA) as a statutory body. On 3rd February 2021, I signed the commencement order to bring into effect the ZAMSA Act of 2019 which has since been published in the government gazette. In short, Medical Stores no longer exists as it has, it has now been transformed into ZAMSA,” he added.

“The commencement of ZAMSA will promote an efficient and cost effective system for the [procurement, warehousing and distribution of medicines and medical supplies as a public service provider other than a profit oriented entity established under the companies Act. This also entails that procurement functions will now move from the Ministry of Health to ZAMSA. In addition, operationalisation of ZAMSA is expected to ensure timely availability of medicines and medical supplies in public health facilities enabled through the establishment of the Medicines and Medical supplies fund to support the procurement of medicines and medical supplies for public health facilities. I urge all our cooperating partners who I met yesterday and other stakeholders to support this fund.”

He also announced realignments at the Ministry with directorates expected to be realigned and reduced from 17 to seven.

“The health sector is being realigned to make it more responsive and fit for purpose in driving the transformation agenda regarding universal health coverage. The focus of this realignment will be on the Ministry of Health headquarters here at Ndeke House which is currently top heavy and will be made lean and efficient, to make it simple, the Ministry has 17 directorates and we will be reducing it and we have recommended that realignments are made so that we can have seven directorates which means 10 directorates will no longer exist so that we make it lean and efficient,” said Dr Chanda.