NatPharm shortlists firms for Covid-19 equipment

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THE National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) has issued a list of local and international shortlisted companies to supply personal protective equipment (PPEs) as well as detergents, medical and surgical sundries.

The new shortlist comes after government — through the Finance ministry — triggered a storm a fortnight ago after awarding Drax Consult a tender to provide the ministry of Health with PPEs and test kits.

Reasons for termination of the contract were that the PPEs being supplied by the Switzerland-registered company were overpriced.

The list of PPEs include face masks for general use, surgical or medical HR masks, disposable caps, disposable gowns in various sizes, disposable shoe covers and plastic disposable HE aprons.

According to a Government Gazette issued last Friday, another list of 67 items — which include digital thermometers, hand sanitisers and biohazard bags — is being procured by the national pharmaceutical company.

“Notice is hereby issued in line with Circular 1 of 2020, dated 27th March, 2020, issued by the Procurement Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (PRAZ). NatPharm herein referred to as the ‘Procuring Entity operating under instructions from the ministry of Health and Child Care’ in line with the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act [Chapter 22:23] would like to notify the public of the shortlisted suppliers of detergents, medical and surgical sundries under Framework Agreement Tender No. NAT ITCB FMWK.01/2020,” read part of the Gazette notice.

Last month, Drax was accused of inflating prices of PPEs and some medical consumables it had already brought into the country which were reportedly valued at nearly US$1 million.

Ministry of Finance permanent secretary George Guvamatanga said he authorised the release of the consignment of the Covid-19 equipment, which was being held at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport on May 8, based on the urgent need for test kits in the country.

However, the government would not be paying for them until the Health ministry and Drax agreed on reasonable prices.

Guvamatanga later instructed ministry of Health’s acting permanent secretary Gibson Mhlanga to cancel the deal, citing price distortions.

In a June 5 letter, Mhlanga directed NatPharm managing director Flora Sifeku to pull the plug on the deal.
“You are directed to cancel all contracts that you had with Drax SAGL with immediate effect. Please be advised that this process needs to be completed by latest June 12, 2020 and all documentation showing cancellation…,” Mhlanga wrote.

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