The Minister of Health, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang held the first
regularmeeting with the Deputy Minister and provincial Health MECs
(Minmec) for 2004 in Johannesburg today. The meeting addressed a number of
Regulation of the prices of medicines:
A set of 27 draft regulations aimed at creating a transparent pricing system
and reducing the prices of medicines were presented. Minmec reiterated its
view that health is not just a commodity but a service critical in
maintaining and saving the lives of human beings. The establishment of a fully
transparent pricing chain will be enormously beneficial to consumers. The
process will entail:
* Eliminating perverse incentives.
* Requiring manufacturers to set a single exit price at which a medicine will
be sold to all parties.
* Setting maximum fees that may be charged by wholesalers, retailers, etc
that are involved in the drug distribution chain.
* Minmec decided that the draft regulations be published as soon as possible
for public comment for a three month period. Comments and representations from
interested parties will be taken into consideration when these regulations are
Minmec noted that allegations of massive collusion and price fixing
raisetheir heads all too often in the pharmaceutical industry. Recently some
multinational companies operating in South Africa made a substantial
payment in settlement of such a case before our own Competition Tribunal.
Currently the British National Health Service is suing seven major
pharmaceutical companies for 30 million pounds for allegedly fixing the
price of one of Britain's most common drugs. Prices of several other
prescription drugs increased by up to 700 percent due to alleged price-fixing by
Minmec noted with concern the health challenges posed by the droughtaffecting
particularly Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo,Mpumalanga,
Northern Cape and the North-West provinces. It is widely recognised that
drought increases poverty and food insecurity, leading to malnutrition and
Minmec, however, considered some of the less obvious health consequences of
drought. Experience of severe drought in other parts of Africa suggests
that a wide-ranging health strategy is necessary to ward off the full
consequences of this natural disaster. They endorsed a strategy that takes
* The increased risk of diarrhoeal disease due to shrinking water
sources,lower personal hygiene practices and deteriorating sanitation.
* The likely shift in vector borne diseases (such as malaria) to new areas.
* The interaction of malnutrition with communicable diseases that compromise
immunity and affect huge numbers of South Africans.
* The social disruption caused by drought and the consequences of this for
preventive health programmes, such as the immunisation of children.
* The increased environmental risks - from excessively high temperatures, air
pollution due to veld fires, the possibility of poisoning from infected
livestock that have succumbed to the combined effect of drought and
* Minmec endorsed a proposal for a national health sector response to the
short and long-term negative impact of drought on the health status of
affected South Africans. The plan aims to empower affected communities to
sustain health even under disastrous circumstances, prevent heat related
illnesses and maintain optimal personal hygiene levels and sanitation.
Minmec noted that various health professionals who are doing community
service in many disadvantaged areas are commencing duty smoothly this
year. Minmec reaffirmed the objective of community service - namely to
ensure a supply of health professionals to facilities where their skills
are most needed, particularly in rural areas.
It was reported that 63 medical graduates out of the group of more than 1 100
had not yet been placed as they have not applied for posts in provinces
other than Gauteng and the Western Cape. All available posts in these two
provinces have already been allocated. These individuals will therefore be
requested to take up available positions where their skills are most needed.
Implementation of the Comprehensive Plan for Care, Management and Treatment
of HIV and AIDS
A progress report on the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan for Care,
Management and Treatment of HIV and AIDS was presented to Minmec
highlighting concerted work that has been ongoing in the Department since
the Plan was approved by Cabinet.
Progress includes the following:
* A Negotiating Team that is to secure best possible drug procurement
contracts has been established and it will shortly advertise a request for
proposals on the provision of anti-retroviral drugs from pharmaceutical
* An accreditation form encompassing all the requirements for identification
of service points has been finalised and piloted in two provinces.
External organisations that are going to assist with accreditation have
* Visits to provinces for accreditation of facilities will commence
* The Government's communication and social mobilisation programme that
promotes prevention, care and support and treatment is being
expanded to incorporate the option of ARV treatment. The campaign will
continue to emphasise the central role of prevention and inform the public of
the comprehensive services that are in the pipeline.
* Minmec recommitted itself to continuously monitor progress in implementing
the Plan and inform the public and stakeholders about progress.(Source:
Released by Sibani Mngadi Spokesperson for the Ministry of Health
http://www.doh.gov.za/docs/pr/pr0109-f.html 09 January 2004).
Draft Regulations Relating to a Transparent Pricing System for Medicines and Scheduled Substances made in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act of 1997.