Govt lays out plan to reduce procurement of medical supplies

A variety of drugs on shelves in a pharmacy in Kigali. File.

Rwanda Medical Supply (RMS), a newly proposed body to replace Medical Production, Procurement and Distribution Division (MPPD), is expected to help reduce medical costs.

That was revealed Monday by James Kamanzi, Deputy Director of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), while appearing before members of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Affairs.

The session was discussing the draft law governing RBC.

The deputy director said that a private company will have to choose which supplier to work with, and be able to negotiate prices. Consequently, they will have medicine at a low price and immediately from the factory, without using middlemen.

“At the moment, because of procurement conditions, we work with intermediate people between us and drug producers. We cannot negotiate with them directly because the law doesn’t allow us to, thereby increasing the costs. But, for a private company, it is possible to deal with many producers and make them reduce their prices and even choose what you want,” he said.

“We can’t in any way tell Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) that such medicine is very expensive and deal with another supplier. According to RPPA conditions, we must have many suppliers to vie for a tender other than choosing a single source,” he added

District pharmacies will be distribution centres, like branches of RMC to give hospitals easy access to medicine and will no longer be commercial entities.

“District pharmacies used to work with MPPD as business partners. They were adding extra costs before selling to patients. When you calculate the added value is 60 per cent of the basic value,” Kamanzi said.

“That reform will reduce 25 per cent of the added value, which will positively affect the price for the final consumers (patients). Some costs will be removed as pharmacies will no longer be commercial entities, but distribution centres only,” he stated.

Dr Patrick Ndimubanzi, the State Minister in charge of Public Health and Primary Health Care, assured MPs that flexibility will not affect the quality of medicine.

“When we say flexibility, it is not about the quality; that will remain the same and will be controlled by the Government to protect Rwandans. Flexibility will help speed up tender processes, to negotiate with suppliers to lower their prices, and to make a choice,” he reiterated.