DEPUTY Health Minister Paul Chimedza on Thursday told Parliament that Zimbabwe was facing a serious drugs shortage because of financial constraints.
Chimedza made the remarks in response to a question by Zanu PF MP for Makoni South, Mandi Chimene, who wanted to know what the government was doing to deal with drugs shortages in rural areas.
The legislator said the shortages were so serious that they were now resulting in people dying in masses in rural areas.
“Honourable minister, for how long shall our rural hospitals remain without drugs? There is only expired Panadol and our people are dying in masses,” said Chimene amid applause from fellow MPs.
Chimedza admitted that the government cannot acquire most of the essential drugs due to financial constraints.
“Our ministers understand that drugs are limited. Government has no money,” said Chimedza.
He however denied claims that drugs were in short supply in rural hospitals saying the challenge was apparent at district, provincial and national levels.
“Stock levels for our rural hospitals are not that bad. The shortage becomes apparent as we go up the ladder,” he said.
“At district level we have 50 percent capacity, at provincial level 40 percent and its worse at national and referral hospitals.’’
Zimbabwe’s health system, once a model on the African continent, has collapsed after years of underfunding and mismanagement.
Critics blame the collapse on President Robert Mugabe’s policies.
The government is facing a renewed economic crisis that has seen it fail to buy basic medicines for hospitals while salaries for state workers including nurses and doctors are routinely delayed.