Propelled by vision 2030, Namibia is gearing up to become an industrialised nation.
This means improving its ability to manufacture local products, including medicinal products.
In light of this, it is interesting to note that despite government efforts to reduce manufacturers’ tax obligations and publish the benefits thereof, there are only two established pharmaceutical manufacturers in Namibia which are involved in mainly repackaging and small-scale manufacturing.
Clearly, there are more challenges in pharmaceutical manufacturing that need to be addressed to prompt the growth of the industrial pharmaceutical sector, with the main aim being to attain and maintain good general health in the country.
Recent opinions that appeared in The Namibian urge the Ministry of Health and Social Services to realign its focus to manufacturing medicinal products rather than relying on the importation of these products through the tender process.
In addition, the reliability of the tender process has come under scrutiny.
Furthermore, there has been a public outcry to reallocate public funds to meet more pressing essentials, such as the renovation of ill-equipped public hospitals and debilitated public schools.
Moreover, the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated inequitable access to medicine in Namibia, mainly due to limited resources.
Despite all the economic challenges faced by Zimbabwe, there are no less than five fully functional industrial pharmaceutical manufacturing plants in that country.
These companies produce medicinal products that supply community pharmacies in Zimbabwe and neighbouring Zambia, Angola and Namibia.
If Zimbabwe can do it, so can we.
The low population density of Namibia should not discourage large-scale manufacturing.
It should rather serve as motivation for in-country supply of the produce in addition to exportation.
Moreover, Namibia has been boasting about its ability to train pharmacists, pharmacist assistants, pharmaceutical scientists, chemists and quality assurance personnel since 2011.
It has been 12 years since the inception of Unam’s pharmacy school.
It is with confidence that I write that there are sufficient skills to at least produce paracetamol and your everyday multivitamin syrup for children.
Is there justifiable grounds to favour pharmaceutical tender procurement above pharmaceutical manufacturing with taxpayers’ money?
My take on the matter is that the constraints of government funds should be stewarded to provide for medicines that are safe, effective, affordable and easily accessible.
In-country manufacturing will always be holistically beneficial to Namibia, and we have what it takes to do so.