Roundup: Syria faces serious shortage in medicine due to incessant violence in Aleppo

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Roundup: Syria faces serious shortage in medicine due to incessant violence in Aleppo

DAMASCUS, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- More than half of Syria's pharmaceutical laboratories have been closed because of the grinding crisis, and what makes matters worse is the recent military showdown between government forces and armed rebels in Aleppo where most of the country's pharmaceutical laboratories locate.

Just a few months ago, the government assured that the health sector is still boding well and that the output covers the people' s needs. However, medicine output fell worse than expected and several types of medicine are no longer present at pharmacies.

Slumping manufacturing darkens the outlook and sends grim signals that the country is facing serious medicine shortage.

The president of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Industry Fares Al-Shihabi severely blamed the government and local administration at Aleppo for failure to provide protection for the laboratories of Syrian pharmaceutical industry in the province despite repeated calls to the government for many months.

Al-Shihab told local media that al-Mansoura area in Aleppo combines about 20 medicine factories and many other facilities that are all exposed to theft, looting and kidnapping, noting that the production constitutes more than 50 percent of Syria's production of pharmaceuticals.

Shihabi said that two of the owners of these facilities were kidnapped in addition to several cases of carjacking at these facilities and other ongoing attacks.

He revealed that many of the industrialists began to close their business and leave the country, a matter that will create a real crisis in the delivery of drugs produced by these plants.

World Health Organization recently reported that pharmaceutical factories in Syria were closed because of the security situation, triggering off a health crisis caused by a severe shortage of medicines.

The WHO said Syria was producing 90 percent of its medicines and medical supplies, but this production declined because of the security situation and lack of raw materials, sanctions and rising fuel prices.

It added that the recent escalations severely damaged pharmaceutical factories in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus, which accounts for 90 percent of the country's factories.

The spokesman for the United Nations in Geneva, Tariq Jassar Fitch, reportedly said that "a large number of factories closed, which led to a severe shortage of medicines," adding that the country is in an urgent need of medicine for tuberculosis, hepatitis, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and kidney disease. "

The spokesman said that the health sector has been hit hard in the areas of conflict as many hospitals and health centers have been closed, damaged or controlled by one of the parties to the conflict.

Jassar Fitch warned of the inability to have access to health centers because of the continuing violence and lack of public transportation, pointing out that health facilities stopped working in the most affected areas.

He indicated that the Syrian Ministry of Health lost 200 ambulances over the past few weeks.

Jassar Fitch considered that the biggest challenge the WHO team faces is its inability to deliver aid to the vulnerable Syrians. The former Minister of Health Wael al-Halqi confirmed last month that there are no fears about the pharmaceutical industry in the country as the country has a stock of pharmaceutical supplies, raw materials and manufactured products that will be sufficient for six months.

A week earlier, Iran has provided Syria with 50 ambulances, in addition to quantities of drugs worth 1.2 million U.S. dollars for the treatment of chronic diseases.

Halqi said there would be other aids to Syria worth 30 million dollars that would come over the next two months to cover the shortfall at the health sector that was largely affected by U.S. and European sanctions.

Al-Halqi said around 35 government hospitals have been damaged so far by terrorist attacks.

He said medical services at the northern city of Aleppo have been secured except at some areas like Azaz and Manbej, where hospitals have been sabotaged by gunmen.

Halqi said there is a need to search for new sources to import medical supplies and pharmaceuticals from friendly countries to reduce the impacts of economic embargo on Syria. Syria's economic indicators paint a grim picture as the economic decline has spread to all kinds of business. Inflation has increased and prices of almost all commodities have surged.

Only the prices of pharmaceuticals have remained steady after more than a year and a half of a crushing crisis as they were heavily subsidized by the government. Enditem

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