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Economic crisis in Pakistan affects healthcare system, patients struggle for essential medicines

Written by  Annesha Barua -- February 26th 2023 03:46 PM
Economic crisis in Pakistan affects healthcare system, patients struggle for essential medicines

Economic crisis in Pakistan affects healthcare system, patients struggle for essential medicines

Islamabad, February 26: Pakistan has been going through serious economic crisis, as the country's rupee is falling down and fuel prices shooting up, and taxes on luxury goods rising. Recently, Pakistan’s state has come to limelight. 

China has also come to its rescue by lending $700 billion this week. The country is making all efforts to unlock the next tranche of $6.5 billion loan facility from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Pakistan is spiraling into a deep economic crisis. 

The economic crisis has hit Pakistan, specially its healthcare system where the patients have been struggling for essential medicines. The lack of Pakistan’s forex reserves has affected the capacity to import the required medicines or the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) used in domestic production.

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The local pharmaceutical manufacturers have been forced to slash their production as patients suffer in hospitals. Here the doctors are forced to not perform surgeries due to the shortage of drugs and medical equipment. 

According to reports of Pakistan media, the operation theatres are left with less than the two-week stock of anaesthetics needed for sensitive surgeries, including for heart, cancer and kidney. The situation might also result in job losses in hospitals in Pakistan, further increasing the miseries of people.

The drug makers have blamed the financial system for the crisis in the healthcare system by claiming that commercial banks are not issuing new Letters of Credit (LCs) for their imports.

Pakistan medicine manufacturing is highly import-dependent with almost 95 per cent of the drugs requiring raw materials from other nations, including India and China. For most of the drug manufacturers, the imported materials have been held up at the Karachi port due to a shortage of dollars in the banking system.

The drug manufacturing industry has said that the cost of making drugs is constantly increasing due to rising fuel costs and transportation charges and the sharp devaluation of the Pakistani rupee.

Recently, the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) called for the intervention of the government to prevent the situation from turning into a disaster. However, the authorities rather than taking immediate steps are still trying to assess the quantum of the shortage.

Drug retailers in Pakistan's Punjab have said that government survey teams carried out field visits to determine the shortage of crucial medicines. The retailers revealed that the shortage of some common but important drugs is impacting the majority of the customers. These medicines include Panadol, Insulin, Brufen, Disprin, Calpol, Tegral, Nimesulide, Hepamerz, Buscopan and Rivotril, etc.

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