Pakistan begins supplying free medicines to Afghanistan

Published December 5, 2021
An Afghan man receives aid from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies after an earthquake, in Behsud district of Jalalabad province, Afghanistan October 28, 2015. — Reuters
An Afghan man receives aid from the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies after an earthquake, in Behsud district of Jalalabad province, Afghanistan October 28, 2015. — Reuters

KARACHI: Pakistan has started supplying free medicines to Afghanistan in a move to strengthen its assistance to the neighbouring country facing serious medical and health challenges, industry sources said on Saturday.

The first consignment of medicines worth Rs25 million was dispatched from Karachi for treatment of viral diseases, regular drugs for common diseases among elders and stock of supplies used in emergencies.

“This is the first consignment of our plan of medical assistance in Afghanistan,” said Atif Iqbal of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA).

“After a week or so we would be dispatching another such consignment worth Rs100m. The industry has responded to appeal from Afghanistan’s health minister who had recently sought support from Pakistan’s health sector including healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical industry.”

He said the industry was also sorting out immediate medical needs of Afghanistan and coordinating with member manufacturers in all major cities of Pakistan.

Consignment worth Rs25m dispatched from Karachi

In September, the World Health Organi­sation (WHO) warned that Afghanistan’s health system is on the brink of collapse. The head of global health body explained that the starving families’ suffering is as acute in urban areas as in the drought-stricken rural parts of the country.

After meeting senior Taliban officials, medical professionals and patients, the WHO said that a lack of financial support for Afghanistan’s largest health project, Sehet­mandi, had left thousands of facilities unable to buy medical supplies and pay salaries.

Fewer than one in five of the country’s Sehetmandi facilities remained open, the WHO had explained, although it said that access to all communities was “no longer impeded”.

“Apart from medicines, we have sent wheelchairs and other crucial medical equi­pment,” said Ghulam Hashim Noorani of the Pakistan Chemists and Druggists Associa­tion. “It’s a beginning and we hope that our industry would come forward and meet the expectations of our Afghan brothers and sisters. They desperately need our help.”

The Pakistani health authorities last month announced that they would cooperate with Afghanistan in improving its healthcare infrastructure, which has been affected badly due to the conflict. PM’s Adviser on Health Dr Faisal Sultan had asked the Afghan authorities to ‘define their health needs’ for assistance from Pakistan.

Pakistan has already established a 300-bed tertiary-care health facility in Kabul, titled “Mohammad Ali Jinnah Hospital”, which is the only functional public health facility currently with 50 oxygenated beds for Covid-19 patients.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2021

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