Syria experiencing critical shortage in medicines, says WHO

Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Geneva: According to report received, Syria is experiencing critical shortage in medicines and pharmaceutical products said, the United Nations’ World health organistaion (WHO) on Wednesday.

WFP staffer interviewing a Syrian family as a part of
needs assessment mission. PHOTO: WFP 
Addressing a presser here  in Geneva WHO spokesperson, Tarik Jasarevic said, “The recent escalation of clashes had resulted in substantial damages to the pharmaceutical plants located in rural Aleppo, Homs and Rural Damascus, where 90 per cent of the country’s plants were located.”

 “Many of these plants had now closed down, thus resulting in a critical shortage of medicines, “ he added,

Prior to the violence which has wracked the Middle Eastern country, Syria produced 90 per cent of its medicines and drugs locally.

However, this production has slowed down due to insecurity, the decreased availability of raw materials, sanctions and increased fuel costs stemming from the violence that has killed an estimated 17,000 people, mostly civilians, since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began some 17 months ago.

Over recent days, there have been reports of an escalation in violence in many towns and villages, as well as the country’s two biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, with the latter reportedly the centre of intense combat between Government and opposition forces, involving both aerial bombardments and heavy weaponry.

Among the most urgently needed medicines are drugs to treat tuberculosis, hepatitis, hypertension, diabetes and cancer, as well as haemodialysis for kidney diseases, according to WHO. Chemical reagents for blood screening tests are also urgently needed to ensure the safety and quality of blood used in surgical and trauma cases.

To ensure access to essential health services – including life-saving medical and surgical services in directly and indirectly affected areas – WHO and its health sector partners are supporting trauma management at primary health care centres and hospitals.

This includes providing support to mobile medical clinics and outreach services, as well as supporting the procurement and provision of hygiene kits, medicines, medical equipment and supplies, among other things.

Since the intensification of clashes in Aleppo in July, WFP has reached close to 46,000 people in the city with urgent food assistance. Overall, during the month of July, WFP’s food assistance reached 541,575 people in most of Syria’s governorates – the agency had aimed to reach 850,000 people, but was prevented from doing so by the violence.

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