Make up for missing medicines for flood victims
by Sardar Khan Niazi
Flood waters have not receded in many flood-affected areas, leading to outbreaks of various epidemics. Philanthropists, welfare organizations and citizens are donating medicines for common ailments among other things. However, the country needs more essential medicines.
The situation has put the lives of thousands of people living in overcrowded camps at risk and their assistants circling various pharmacies but returning empty-handed. The shortage has also affected the supply of medicinal drugs used in pathological laboratories during various tests.
Entire flood affected areas are deprived of their most basic rights like healthcare. A large number of people suffering from dengue, malaria, cholera, diarrhoea, typhoid and eye and skin infections are being treated every day in the medical camps. This has led to a huge increase in the demand for medicines.
With the spread of waterborne and mosquito-borne diseases following incessant rains and devastating floods in the country, medicines for many diseases have almost disappeared from the market. This situation is worrying for the doctors undergoing treatment in the flood-affected areas.
The healthcare system is facing a shortage of several types of medicines. The medicine which was most needed in the post-flood era is not available in the market. The most useful medicine in the flood affected areas is Panadol.
Mainly used as a medicine for cold or flu, it is also useful in cases of dengue and other viral infections. It is an antipyretic, which controls the symptoms and allows the patient to recover from the danger of high-grade fever.
Unfortunately, Panadol went off the market, ending a price dispute with the government, with manufacturers deciding to stop making it, as it did not make economic sense to maintain it at a price allowed by the government.
The government must ensure the availability of Panadol, either by subsidizing its manufacture or at least by obtaining supplies for itself, at an economic cost to the manufacturer. Poor planning may have led to a shortage of medicines. This is very disturbing to the trend of official neglect of the needs of the citizens.
Taking advantage of the situation, some pharmaceutical companies demanded a hike in the prices of their products, saying these companies were either hoarding stocks or selling only to retailers, leading to shortage of drugs in the market.
Some have attributed the shortfall to the continued appreciation of the US dollar, saying depreciation in the rupee negatively impacts procurement of raw materials for drugs.
The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association (PPMA) says that the imposition of sales tax on raw materials has increased the cost of manufacturing the drugs and the current prices set by the government; They have no option but to stop the import of the material.
Production cannot resume until the government removes the tax. Manufacturing will be possible only after the tax is abolished.
Whoever in the government is responsible for overseeing pharmacies and medical supplies should explain this shortfall and have a clear plan to refill the missing medicine in the shortest possible time.
Waterborne diseases are spreading. Doctors do not have enough medicine to treat the displaced living in overcrowded camps.
Floods have left behind unhygienic conditions in which dangerous pathogens are spreading. There is a shortage of medicine and clean water. The stagnant rain water is used for drinking and washing, due to which diseases are spreading.
The greatest demand for medicine is to prevent the spread of water-borne diseases after floods. Pharmacies do not carry pain relievers, antibiotics and medicines for skin and gynecological problems, diabetes and eye infections.
Health department officials are trying their best to ensure the availability of medicines but things are getting out of their control. Pakistan needs more medicines.