Syria drug shortages threaten health catastrophe

Syria drug shortages threaten health catastrophe
A pharmacist looks for medication at a pharmacy in Damascus.

DAMASCUS - Not only is Syrian father Motaz struggling to put food on the table, he must also pay astronomical prices to import insulin for his diabetic son because of drug shortages in the war-torn country.

Drug production in Syria has plunged ever since an uprising broke out against President Bashar al-Assad 30 months ago and degenerated into civil war.

"I must count every penny because my son's treatment takes up a big portion of my salary," the 46-year-old Motaz told AFP.

His three children no longer enjoy any day trips because "the priority now is to treat the 12-year-old boy," he said.

The shortage caused by the raging war has created "a very critical situation" in Syria, said the World Health Organisation's Elisabeth Hoff.

"Pharmaceutical factories only cover 20 to 30 per cent of the needs, though they used to cover 90 per cent" before the conflict, she told AFP.

Hoff explained that most factories are located in the central city of Homs, Aleppo in the north and in the outskirts of Damascus.

The three areas have seen some of the worst fighting and destruction in the conflict. Eighteen of 73 factories have closed down because of damage, transport difficulties and a halt in raw material imports.

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