IT’S an indisputable fact that low income of the majority of Tanzanian population to a large extent hinders their accessibility to health services as medicines and other services are unaffordable.
This problem has been compounded by the government’s decision to introduce a tariff on imported medicines largely to benefit drug companies without any regard to the majority poor who are left to die because they cannot afford to buy medicine.
In other words, there are some people in government who would rather see their already prosperous acquaintances get richer and richer than ensuring that they save lives of the suffering poor masses.
While it’s true that tariffs do protect local industries and allow them to grow up into competitive industries, we think the health condition of the people should be a priority.
The ten per cent tariff imposed on imported medicines two years ago may protect the so called infant medicine industries, but what about those who cannot afford to buy these medicines? So when we say we are protecting industries, for whose benefit? Are we not supposed to protect the people first?
The fact of the matter is that most poor people, face with harsh realities, cannot afford to buy medicines from drug stores.
Protecting infant industries may sound good, but tariffs insulate domestic producers from foreign competition, so consumers end up paying higher prices. This could have a devastating effect on poor people's access to affordable medicines.
After all, there is no guarantee that the so called infant industries will ever grow up, let alone becoming competitive, still the people are compelled to pay for the prosperity of industrial cronies of their government. The end result is that national investment and growth suffer, but the people suffer most.
Let’s all think about the poor people and make medicines affordable to all, especially the poor.
The world over sustainable and proven way to get affordable medicines to people is by generic competition.