Zimbabwe and China are currently engaged in high-level discussions to set up joint manufacturing of medical drugs and pharmaceuticals, Review & Mail can exclusively reveal.
The prospect – described as “exciting” – will deepen Zimbabwe’s relations with China and ensure that the the country has enough drug stocks, on the back of the construction of a humongous national pharmaceutical warehouse built by China at Harare Hospital, set to be handed over to Government next month.
China’s cooperation with Zimbabwe in the medical field will advance Beijing’s “Health Silk Road”, a key pillar of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The Asian giant’s envoy, Ambassador Guo Shaochun, who toured the National Pharmaceutical Warehouse a fortnight ago, told Review & Mail that talks on dynamic cooperation in the medical drug sector were advanced with Zimbabwe having welcomed use of some Chinese medicines to treat Covid-19.
“Joint manufacturing of vaccines and medicines is an exciting possibility we are working on,” Ambassador Guo revealed.
“His Excellency President Mnangagwa and his government are keen on building such a partnership.
“From the Chinese side, we are encouraging Chinese businesses to engage with local partners to find out the best way of cooperation. All of us are hoping to see some real action in this area in the near future,” Ambassador Guo said.
After touring the facility – which covers an area of 43 000 square metres with a construction area of about 13 700 square metres – Ambassador Guo was impressed.
The facility will be able to carry up to 10 000 pallets of drugs.
It houses one warehouse with a 480 square metre refrigerating storage room providing temperature from 2 to 8 degrees Celsius and another for volatile goods.
It is equipped with a number of security and safety features, thanks to state-of-the-art expertise from China.
“I was glad to see the teams were busy putting the finishing touches on the brand new, state-of-the art facility,” Ambassador Guo said.
“The new warehouse will greatly increase the capacity of storing health commodities. With the application of the latest technologies, those commodities will be managed in a safe and smart way. “This is a perfect example of the people-centered principle underpinning all bilateral projects between China and Zimbabwe,” he said.
China has a history of cooperating with Zimbabwe in the medical field.
Since 1985, China has seconded 19 teams of health experts to Zimbabwe to help provide quality health services for more patients.
China used grants to build the Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital in the 1990s and the China-Zimbabwe Friendship Hospital in Mahusekwa District, which was commissioned in 2013.
In 2020, the Zimbabwe-China Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Centre was established.
The centre is growing in popularity with its new approach to treating consitions such as stroke and high blood pressure as well as chronic pain.
In 2020, the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals was paired up with a Chinese hospital under a China-Africa Health Care Cooperation Programme, which enables more focused and tailored technical support.
China has also funded the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to provide health assistance for women and girls affected by Cyclone Idai which hit the eastern parts of Zimbabwe in 2020.
The global Covid-19 pandemic has brought China and Zimbabwe closer, as Beijing has assisted Zimbabwe with medical equipment, protective gear and vaccines.
“In the face of the global pandemic, our bilateral health care cooperation has demonstrated great vigor and effectiveness,” Ambassador Guo noted.
China’s Health Silk Road is set to benefit Zimbabwe.
“One of the major policy thrusts of the Health Silk Road is to facilitate global access to high-quality and affordable China-made pharmaceutical products,” Ambassador Guo explained.
Locally, several traditional Chinese medicines have been recognized by the authorities. One of them called Lianhua Qingwen has become quite popular with locals for its demonstrable effects in reducing Covid-19 symptoms.