Healthcare in Syria is close to collapse as drug shortages bite

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 09 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5410
  1. Toby Pitts-Tucker
  1. 1BMJ

Problems accessing medical care in Syria have been compounded by a severe shortage of essential drugs after many of the country’s drug making facilities were forced to close because of sanctions, high fuel costs, fighting, and a scarcity of raw materials, the World Health Organization has said.

Before the unrest began in March 2011 Syria produced 90% of its drugs, but at a United Nations press briefing in Geneva on 7 August the WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic announced that production had been curtailed. Urgently needed drugs include those for tuberculosis, hepatitis, hypertension, diabetes, and cancer. Haemodialysis for kidney disease is also affected. And there is a shortage of chemical reagents for blood screening tests to ensure the safety and quality of blood used in surgical and trauma cases.

“The [drug production plants] that have stopped functioning are located in the most affected areas where the need for medical and surgical interventions is the most prominent,” said Jasarevic.

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