Signing Ceremony of Euro 4.8 Million Grant to Medical Stores Limited
13 December 2017
Speaking Points – H.E. Ambassador Alessandro Mariani
I would like to congratulate all of you present today for the joint work and close collaboration which has led to today's signing of a Grant worth 4.8 M EUR (approx. 58 million Zambian Kwacha) with Medical Stores Limited (MSL). It took almost two years to finalize the preparation of this project, mainly because the fulfilment of some of the planned policy pre-conditions took more time than it was originally envisaged. But the result is certainly worth the journey.
This grant will support MSL towards the establishment of a central warehouse here in Lusaka which is going to meet international quality standards. This will significantly enhance MSL capacity and efficiency to store and distribute medicines, and more broadly
Specifically, this Grant will support: i) the construction of the new central warehouse; ii) the establishment of a new warehouse for hazardous medicines; ii) the establishment of the warehouse support units’ infrastructure, putting everyone "under one roof", and iv) the adaptation and the renovation of the existing stores and surroundings. All this was agreed upon based on the needs and requirements identified in the Infrastructure Master Plan of the MSL, approved in 2015.
We now have 24 months to implement all the above and it will be very important to strictly adhered to the planned timetable and avoid any delays as the Health Strengthening Support Programme is going to arrive to its natural end of implementation on 20 December 2019.The bulk of the planned activities and resources will be delegated from the MSL to UNDP which will be in charge of managing and supervising the construction works on site. Tomorrow we are already going to process the pre-financing to MSL in order to allow for the finalization of contractual arrangements between MSL and UNDP so as to pave the way to the works which have to start rapidly.
With EU financing, we are supporting the Second Phase of the MSL Masterplan for Extension of the Central Warehouse. I understand that several Cooperating Partners such as the Global Fund and USAID are also supporting the implementation of different phases of the MSL Master Plan. (Phase 1: packing & dispatch area, cold room and offices (now completed); Phase 3: further support upgrading the existing warehouse, install incinerator equipment, provide effective storage materials handling equipment and furniture, IT systems and security features). Therefore, close coordination among the cooperating partners involved will be of paramount importance throughout the implementation of this project. We expect that our support will contribute to a fully-fledged and operational storage and distribution system at the central warehouse.
Similarly to what was done for the construction of the ZAMRA laboratory, we intend to organize a ground breaking ceremony in relation to this important investment at the MSL Central Store in Lusaka. This, which will possibly take place early next year, will be another opportunity to inform the general public on this investment which is ultimately and primarily in the interest of the Zambian people.
Finally, it is crucial that this important physical investment is matched with effective policy and institutional reforms, adequate management/governance systems as well as with enhanced staff capacity and skills transfers. All these ingredients will be needed to ensure that this investment is sustainable beyond the lifetime of the HSS programme and contributes in a sustainable manner to the improvement in availability and correct use of quality assured medicines.
In that respect, I am very pleased that the long awaited Memorandum of Understanding related to the gradual transfer of procurement from the Ministry of Health to MSL was signed in July this year. I look forward an effective implementation of this ambitious policy reform, together with the strategic institutional, organisational and leadership reforms currently ongoing at MSL itself.
I thank you for your attention