STOCKS of anti-polio vaccine BCG have begun to dwindle at a number of government-run medical centres in the country which has forced the government to scout for international bidders
to supply the medicine, it emerged this week.
The tender has already been floated overseas.
Shortage of the drug, which is mostly used in the vaccination of children, comes in the wake of a shortage of yellow fever vaccine which is used for visitors to countries prone to the disease such as West Africa.
The shortages of the drug has since forced a number of medical doctors to ask travellers to either go without being vaccinated at all thus posing the risk of contracting the fever.
Health minister David Parirenyatwa confirmed that his ministry had since floated a tender for suppliers, but he shot down speculation that the drugs have since run out altogether.
“I don’t know that we have run out of that medicine (BCG). But what we have done is we have put out an international tender because our stocks are running low,” Parirenyatwa said.
“I cannot tell you who has made the bids and who the winner is because at the moment there is a set criteria that has to be met by the bidders.
“This was done because our stocks were running low. When bread is almost running out in your house, you do not wait for it to run out completely but you buy more bread before it runs out, which explains why we have put out that tender,” he said.
Zimbabwe has been facing an acute drug shortage since 2000 which has put to shame President Mugabe’s 1980s slogan of “Health for all by year 2000”.
Parirenyatwa said he was not aware that the yellow fever vaccines had since run out, saying that there is no risk of the country being affected.
“We do not have problems of yellow fever locally but it is mostly found in West Africa.”
He refused to shed light on who was financing the procurement of the drugs. “I cannot tell you that, why do you want to know that? It is not necessary at the moment because there are certain issues which have to be met by companies that submitted the bids,” he said.