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Medicine shortage and how it jeopardizes lives in Pakistan

The correlation between human survival and the smack of diseases is an undeniable fact, and it has remained so right from the commencement of times. However, in Pakistan where the number of diseases and patients are alarmingly high, a severe shortage of life-saving drugs is killing more people every year, unfortunately.

Not much has been done in the country in the recent years as far as the health sector is concerned, an area of our already destitute society that never got attention of the decision makers.

According to World Health Organisation, Pakistan has around 500,000 Tuberculosis (TB) patients every year with a population of 190 million.

But, the lack of life-saving drugs including vaccines, TB drugs and even simple cough and cold syrups is another issue that Pakistan has to deal with.

Authorities in Pakistan have raised critical drugs prices on an ad hoc basis over the past 15 years when companies have asked, but drugs firms say those increases have not been enough. In June 2016, Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) also allowed for an 8 percent increase in TB drug prices under a hardship clause, which drug companies can apply for once every three years.

Lives of new mothers and newborn babies here are at stake due to lack of vaccines they are usually given to them when a baby is born. The reason behind this situation is recklessness of the government who remained mostly determined on eliminating polio from the country by setting this regular immunisation aside.

Similarly, a scarcity of TB drugs has been going on for several months in Pakistan triggering a crisis-like condition just recently as two major anti-TB drugs –Ethambutol and Pyrazinamide – have become hard to find in the local markets.

In a recent report published by a foreign wire service Reuters, it quoted a pharmacist at a leading Islamabad hospital, saying he had to pay 2,000 rupees ($19) in bribes to get the TB drugs for his brother, who suffers from multi-drug resistant TB, from a government hospital.

It is important to mention here that for the treatment of complex TB cases, the two aforementioned drugs are extremely vital.

Pakistanis are also finding it hard to find simple drugs for cough and cold, clearly explaining that the situation is such bad.

This harrowing nationwide deficiency of drugs, according to health experts, is linked to the failure of the current government in resolving pricing issues with drug manufacturers and because of their lack of motivation for improving the situation by introducing new medicines and therapies.

Despite the current dearth of drugs in the market, the DRAP, being run on taxpayers’ money, still insists that there is no such scenario in Pakistan, rejecting the contrary reports.

Under such situation, medicines in Pakistan are being imported from abroad to replace local short supply due to which businesses are being closed fuelling mass unemployment in the country.

While the centre is yet to do solid measures to overcome the growing crisis, locals in Pakistan will continue to suffer with years on end.

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