Astral Foods' earnings down 55%: non-recovery of taxes from Mozambican govt negatively impacted ...
File photo: Mercado & Negócios Moçambique
Health was a priority for Mozambique’s post independence government, and it followed – indeed took a leading role – in the international thinking of the era. The Alma-Ata conference of 1978 set the goal of “health for all” and prioritised primary health care. The World Health Organization (WHO) published the first essential medicines list (EML) in 1977. WHO notes that “in 1977, a few months before WHO published the first EML, Mozambique had already created its national pharmacopeia, a list consisting of 430 essential medicines. The country has managed to increase local access to medicines from 10% of the population in 1975 to 80% in 2007.” https://www.who.int/medicines/events/fs/en/ Medicines on the list were all generic (that is, not brand name) and were all bought on international tender for the entire country, which sharply reduced the price. Medimoc was set up in 1977 to import and distribute medicines, and it was one of the biggest successes of the socialist era.
But the pharmaceutical industry and particularly the United States had strongly opposed essential medicines lists and import restrictions. With the end of the war in 1992, donors and international finance agencies arrived and imposed a neo-liberal agenda. In 1998 Mozambique was required to allow private imports of medicines. Medimoc was marginalised by donors who were paying for many of the imported medicines. And in recent years the IMF has been pushing hard for the privatisation of the remaining state enterprises.
On Friday 1 August, the state holding company IGEPE, announced that Medimoc is up for sale. (O Pais, 6 Aug) The company is 2/3 owned by the state and 1/3 by its employees. The proposed sale marks the successful end of a 40-year campaign to return medicines supply totally to the private sector, as it was in the colonial era.
By Joseph Hanlon
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