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Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Share Company (EPHARM) said it is prepared to begin exporting pharmaceuticals to Somaliland and South Sudan starting mid-2021. The company observes this will help address the pressing forex shortage, thereby helping the production of supplies to be used as preventive for COVID-19.

Dr. Mohammed Nuri, EPHARM’s Board Chairperson, said the company aims to delve into the export market at this time so as to obtain the forex needed to purchase supplies to produce face masks and hand sanitizers. Dr. Mohammed notes the rise in coronavirus cases is “alarming” and EPHARM is committed to “add more energy in its efforts to curb the spread of the pandemic.”

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Consequently, EPHARM has established a mutual understanding with stakeholders in Somaliland and South Sudan to explore their markets, the Board Chairperson notes. The company has also allocated a “huge” investment for quality assurance and for equipping the company with skilled labor and modern technology to make it more competent in the export market.

Lack of forex has highly effected EPHARM’s daily production of 10,000-liter hand sanitizers and 100,000 surgical masks, Dr. Mohammed notes. The added challenge of the global shortage of supplies such as alcohol, as happened globally, has been an added challenge, he said.

Regardless, the Board Chairperson appreciates the attention the Ethiopian government has paid to the pharmaceutical industry, in order to attract private investment and by doing so enhance global competitiveness. In an effort to address the forex issue, the government has been working closely with the Ethiopian Pharmaceutical and Medical Supplies Manufacturing Industries Sectoral Association, of which EPHARM is a member.

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EPHARM has donated 100,000 surgical masks to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health last week and has given hand sanitizer worth 17 million birr to the COVID-19 National Resource Mobilization Task Force in June.

Established in 1964, EPHARM is the first pharmaceutical manufacturer in Ethiopia. It has been privatized in September 2014 and is now owned by Medtech Ethiopia.

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