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Dearth of medicine hits health services

- SHANKAR ACHARYA , MANOJ PAUDEL, PARSA/KAPILVASTU

Oct 8, 2015-

Various districts across the country are reeling under an acute shortage of medicine, including life saving drugs, owing to Indian blockade on Nepal-India border and protests of the Samyukta Loktantrik Madhesi Morcha in Tarai districts.

Drug entrepreneurs said around 400 trucks laden with medicine are stranded at various border points.

Fourteen pharmaceutical industries along the Birgung-Hetauda section stopped medicine production due to the lack of raw materials and security threats.

The border blockade has led to shortage of drugs particularly those used to cure blood pressure, diabetes, mental and heart ailments and also affected production within the country. Prakash Khandelwal, vice-chairman of the Association of Pharmaceutical Producers, said medicine production has come to a halt due to the blockade. “Medicines across the country have run out of stock,” he said, informing that a majority of pharmaceutical industries in Nepal import 90 percent of raw and packaging materials from Birgunj customs point. He said some drugs are imported via Bhairahawa customs point.

Stating that medicine worth around Rs 2 billion has been stranded in the Indian side of the border, Khandelwal said at least 400 trucks are awaiting clearance at Raxual border. Besides medicine, he said, a large quantity of medical raw materials has also been stranded at the border. “The expiration date of some drugs kept in the trucks is about to be over,” Khandelwal said.

Similarly, Prabhat Rungata, managing director of Maruti Pharma Private Limited, said his industry has been closed for the past 45 days due to the shortage of raw materials. Sources said Nepal imports medicine and surgical equipment worth around Rs 20 billion a year.

The District Public Health Office (DPHO) in Kapilvastu said it is running out of stock medicines but has not been able to replenish it due to ongoing banda. Officials said they are facing the shortage of medicine for the past one month. Acting DPHO chief Mohammad Irfan said they could not bring medicine from Butwal-based regional medical store due to road obstructions. Likewise, some districts in the eastern region are also facing an acute shortage of medicine due to Tarai unrest. Siraha District Public Health Office chief Dr Daya Shankarlal Karna said there has been acute shortage of medicine and surgical equipment in the both government and private hospitals. Meanwhile, nine-year-old, Surekha Kumari Sadaya, a tuberculosis patient of Chandraayodhyapur-4, said she is deprived of medicine.

Published: 08-10-2015 08:54

More on this story

Ambulance services in Chitwan have been affected due to the shortage of petroleum products caused by Indian blockade on border points.
Nabaraj Lamichhane, district chairman of the Ambulance Association, said they are unable to provide services due to lack of fuel. “We will stop providing services if the situation does not improve,” he said.
Stating that they need 30 liters of diesel to go Kathmandu, Lamichhane said local administration provided only 25 liters of diesel per vehicle. “Only 15 of the total 73 ambulances in the district are providing services,” he said.
Meanwhile, patients have been facing difficulties due to the limited number of ambulance in the region. Relatives of Geeta Chaudhary, a pregnant woman in Butwal, said they had to take her to Lumbini Zonal Hospital on a motorcycle during her labour pain. They said though they called ambulance operators, none offered to help city fuel shortage. In Butwal area almost all ambulances have stopped providing services due to lack of petroleum products. Meanwhile in Palpa, vehicles, including as well as those carrying milk, water and other essential materials, have been hit hard by the fuel shortage for the past couple of days. Jeep driver Suman Thapa said they are unable to run vehicles due to the scarcity.

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