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Medicine Crisis in Syria: Scarcity and Interruption

In Syria, most medicines are in short supply or unavailable, according to Athr Press.
Medicine Crisis in Syria: Scarcity and Interruption

Some families and pharmacists in Hama have raised serious concerns about the scarcity of medicines and the difficulties they face in finding essential drugs. The situation has led to fears of a complete interruption in the supply chain, which could have severe repercussions on patients and pharmacists alike, exacerbating an already precarious drug crisis.

Bou Mohamed, a patient suffering from heart and hypertension issues, shared his harrowing experience with Athr Press, recounting the great struggle he faced while searching for his prescribed medicine. He had to visit five different pharmacies in various locations to no avail.

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Hilal al-Shawaf, the director of the al-Shaqfa Pharmaceutical Warehouse, confirmed to Athr Press that the problem extends beyond just a few medicines; rather, most medicines are in short supply or unavailable. He explained that the existing stock in warehouses and pharmacies mainly consists of old medications, as many pharmaceutical laboratories have ceased production.

Dr. Ayman Shaker, the owner of a pharmacy in the center of Hama City, highlighted the detrimental effects of medicine interruptions on various conditions, including pressure, heart, and diabetes medications, among others. Additionally, some individuals resort to buying multiple boxes of medicine due to concerns about potential interruptions or price hikes, thereby depriving others in need. Furthermore, there is a group of patients who are reluctant to accept alternative medications, even if they have the same composition as the prescribed drug, exacerbating the severity of the ongoing drug crisis.

The exchange rate is the problem   

Dr. Badri Alfa, the head of the Hama Pharmacists Syndicate branch, provided a justification for the loss of medicines due to the fluctuations in the exchange rate of the Central Bank. Initially set at 4530 SYPs, the exchange rate later rose to 6350 SYPs after three months and recently surged to 8540 SYPs. Unfortunately, the prices of medicines were not adjusted accordingly, and the pharmaceutical sector remains tied to the exchange rate from the start of the year, forcing them to produce and price drugs at the outdated rate of 4530 SYPs. This situation has resulted in significant losses for drug factories, leading them to halt production.

Adding to the challenges, Dr. Alfa highlighted that all pharmaceutical laboratories have been grappling with a shortage of diesel for approximately a year and a half. Additionally, frequent power outages further compound their difficulties, incurring substantial expenses in managing operations.

The head of the Hama Pharmacists Syndicate branch emphasized that the key to resolving this drug crisis lies in the prompt adjustment of medicine prices by the Ministry of Health, in coordination with drug laboratories. He also mentioned that the Hama Pharmacists Syndicate, in collaboration with the Hama Health Directorate, is actively monitoring and regulating pharmacy prices across the governorate. They are prepared to address any legitimate complaints that may arise in this challenging situation.


This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. The Syrian Observer has not verified the content of this story. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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