Syria – WTO Seeks International Aid For Syria’s Severe Drug Shortages

January 25, 2013 2:43 pm0 commentsViews: 40

Oubari Pharma of Aleppo, Syria, was founded in 1989 as the first private pharmaceutical company to initiate sterile production in Syria.

The World Health Organization (WTO) this week called on the international community to contribute $17.5 million for urgently needed medicines and medical supplies in Syria.

In February 2011, the government of President Bashar al-Assad launched a violent crackdown on protesters which escalated into armed rebellion with several countries now providing aid to the rebels and trade sanctions with Syria. As a result, Syria is reporting severe shortages of pharmaceutical drugs as the 17-month crisis drags on.

Ongoing violence, economic sanctions, a doubling of electricity prices and distribution problems have taken a severe toll on Syria’s drug supply. The drug shortages are worsened by the fact that more than 90 percent of Syria’s pharmaceuticals are locally produced. Many of the country’s drug production facilities, which are concentrated in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus, have been closed due to continuing violence and fuel shortages, according to the WTO and the head of the Syrian’s largest industry organization. In addition, western sanctions means most drug imports have been curtailed.

Fares Al-Shihabi, president of the Federation of Syrian Chambers of Industry, criticized the al-Assad government and local Aleppo officials for failing to protect pharmaceutical labs from theft and looting of buildings and the kidnapping of two pharmaceutical factory owners.

Al-Shihab said Aleppo’s 20 medicine factories had been responsible for producing about 50 percent of Syria’s pharmaceuticals. Now half of those factories and labs are closed.

The Syrian Ministry of Health reports that prior to February 2011, nearly 53 percent of Syrians were being treated for cancer and gastrointestinal, respiratory, cardiovascular or kidney diseases. Today, many Syrians are going without medicines to treat their health conditions.

The WTO also called on “all parties in Syria to take responsibility for protecting patients, health staff and facilities.”

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