Shortage of medicines hits health services

- Post Report, Parsa
Containers carrying medicines have been stranded at Indian border points for the past one and a half months

Nov 9, 2015-Several districts in central and western Tarai are reeling under an acute shortage of medicines, including life saving drugs, due to India’s unofficial embargo on Nepal and the prolonged Tarai banda.

Health services in the districts have been affected as the stocks of medicines and surgical equipment in both government and private hospitals have already depleted.

Containers carrying medicines and other raw materials have been stranded in the Indian side as the Raxaul border point in Birgunj has been obstructed for the past one and a half months. Fourteen pharmaceutical industries along the Birgunj-Hetauda section have stopped medicine production due to the lack of raw materials and security threats.

Rajesh Sah, owner of the Birgunj-based Das medical store, said the border blockade has led to shortage of drugs particularly those used to cure blood pressure, diabetes, mental and heart ailments. Prakash Khandelwal, vice-chairman of the Association of Pharmaceutical Producers, said medicine production came to a halt due to border obstruction. He said a majority of pharmaceutical industries in Nepal import 90 percent of raw and packaging materials from Birgunj border. At least 400 cargo trucks loaded with medicines are awaiting clearance at Raxaul. Khandelwal said medicines worth around Rs2 billion has been stuck in the Indian side. In Hetauda, hospitals stopped surgical services except for emergency ones due to lack of oxygen. Hospital chief Prawin Shrestha said emergency services will come to a halt within two days if the situation continues.

Likewise, expiration date of some drugs stuck at Pathalaiya-based Central Medicine Store in Bara is about to be over. Store chief Arun Kumar Jha said around 35 types of medicines have been stuck in the godown. “We cannot transport those medicines to various districts due to fuel crisis and ongoing protests,” he said.

Meanwhile, people in Nawalparasi said medical stores have started selling essential medicines at exorbitant prices. Manoj Yadav, owner of a medical store in Parasi, said the price of some medicines has been increased following the shortage. Local Ramji Gyawali said people who cannot go to Butwal and bordering Indian towns for medical treatment have been facing hardships.

In Doti, health institutions and medical stores are facing an acute shortage of emergency medicines and surgical equipment. Aaijung Kunwar, a pharmacist, said patients are hit hard due to the crisis. “Ninety percent of Indian medicines have been used up in the district. We are compelled to refer patients to other areas,” he said. Medical store owners said they will shut down their business if the situation continues. They also requested the agitating Madhes-based parties not to obstruct the supply of medicines and surgical equipment.

Published: 09-11-2015 08:19

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