I. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
The Medical Stores Department (MSD) came to exist as a result of the transformation of the then Central Medical Stores (CMS). CMS was a department under the Ministry of Health that was responsible for the procurement, storage, and distribution of health commodities in the country. It worked under the influence of three ministries, namely the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Works.
Just after the Independence of the then Republic of Tanganyika in 1961, the late Mwl Julius Kambarage Nyerere who was the first President of Tanganyika paid a visit to socialist countries such as China, Socialist Soviet Union Republic – USSR, Korea, etc. During his visit, China agreed to support Tanganyika in the manufacturing Industries including the Manufacturing of Pharmaceuticals.
In 1968, the first public pharmaceutical Manufacturing Industry was inaugurated in the Keko area in Dar es Salaam City. This was full support from the Chinese Government. The manufactured products were distributed all over the country through the Central Medical Store (CMS). In fact, the factory became part and parcel of the CMS under the Ministry of Health. However, during the 1990s, most of the public-owned factories had to close their doors due to economic challenges which were caused by inefficiency and inexperienced personnel to manage the manufacturing industries. The conditions given by International Monetary Fund and the World Bank as economic solutions to developing countries lead to the privatization of most of the publicly owned factories. The factory for manufacturing medicines at Keko was also privatized.
On the other hand, in 1993 the CMS was transformed into Medical Stores Department through the act of the Parliament no 13 of 1993. MSD became an autonomous department under the Ministry of Health operating under commercial principles. It was mandated to procure, store and distribute health commodities to all public-owned health facilities.
II. THE IDEA TO INITIATE HEALTH COMMODITIES FACTORIES AT MSD
The idea to start engaging in the manufacturing of Health commodities at MSD emerged again in 2013/2014 as one of the strategies to improve stock out of health commodities in the country which was a result of limited Government budget and fund disbursement to MSD. In spite of all efforts, it was not possible to start manufacturing because there were no legal mandates to do that.
III. EXPANDED MSD FUNCTIONS
It was not until the year 2021 that the idea for MSD to have manufacturing Industries came to practicality. MSD Act no 13 of 1993 was amended to accommodate the fourth function of ‘Production’. MSD has now a legal mandate to Procure, Produce, Store, and Distribute Health commodities in the country.
IV. REASONS FOR MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES AT MSD
The following are the reasons that motivated MSD to engage in manufacturing industries:
a. To improve the availability of health commodities through reduced lead time
The long procurement cycle required by the Procurement Act makes it difficult to get health commodities on time whenever needed. The minimum number of days required to import medical products is nine months. With local manufacturing, medicines can be made available in the very shortest possible time.
b. To serve hardly earned foreign currency
In order to import any product, foreign currency is used. So local production of health commodities serves a substantial amount of foreign currency that can be reallocated for other important needs
c. To reduce import and associated costs.
Reduction of importation cost reduces the prices for locally produced health commodities with the same high-quality standards.
d. To provide employment to the people of Tanzania
The provision of employment to Tanzanians has a multiplier effect with a direct impact on the well-being of the people of Tanzania.
e. To safeguard the National from heath commodities scarcity.
The National security of Health commodities is always subjected to risk in case of global emergencies like pandemics, e.g. COVID-19, etc where it is very difficult or impossible to import commodities from overseas.
f. To comply with the National Industrialization policy.
Tanzania has embarked on investing in Manufacturing Industries so as to reduce foreign dependence on the availability of commonly used products.