ZIMBABWE’s National Drug Policy was formally launched in March 1998 by the Minister of Health, Dr Timothy Stamps, at a colour-ful ceremony at the Harare Central Hospital. Simultaneously the Policy was launched in four other centres throughout the country. The launch is a culmination of the efforts of all sectors of the health system - including health service providers, the pharmaceutical industry, various ministries and other stakeholders.
A five-year work plan underlies the Policy, and has been in operation even before the formal launch. Dr Stamps stressed that the concept of a National Drug Policy was not new to Zimbabwe and that work on it started soon after the country gained its independence in 1980. At the same time promotion of the rational use of drugs and production of standard treatment guidelines and essential drugs lists had also begun.
The launch of the policy is “the Government’s commitment to the goals described” said Minister Stamps, whilst urging everyone to familiarise themselves with its contents and to identify their individual roles in its implementation.
Also speaking at the launch was the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe’s representative, Mrs Keretia Chikowe. She explained that access to correct drug information was a fundamental consumer right, and that increased literacy levels in Zimbabwe had increased consumer’s critical awareness. Presenting a copy of the Patients Charter to the Minister, she impressed on him the need for Parliamentarians to have a clear understanding of the National Drug Policy, so that legislation to support the Policy would be put in place.
Aidan Chidarikire (right), Director of Pharmacy Services and Norman Nyazema (left), Professor of Pharmacology at the University of Zimbabwe celebrate the launch of Zimbabwe’s new national drug policy document
WHO Representative, Dr Levon Arevshatian, stressed the importance that WHO attaches to the development and implementation of national drug policies. Other speakers underscored the need for a concerted multidisciplinary approach for successful policy implementation. Finally, the choir from the Harare Central Hospital School of Nursing was on hand to sing the Zimbabwe National Drug Policy into life.