DAMASCUS, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian market suffers a remarkable shortage in some kinds of drugs as most pharmaceutical laboratories in northern Syria are out of service.
The Minister of Health Saad Naif told local media that 72 kinds of medicines are missing from the market given the economic sanctions on the country, the difficulty of access to certain hotspots, and the shutdown of many pharmaceutical laboratories.
He however stressed that the ministry is working to secure drugs through local plants and through the imports from some friendly countries and international organizations.
Despite the government's assurances that the health sector is still boding well and that the output covers the people's needs, drugs output fell worse than expected and several types of medicine are no longer present at pharmacies.
Slumping manufacturing darkens the outlook and sends grim signals that the country is facing a serious medicine shortage.
The minister indicated that the ministry, in order to offset the shortfall, has contracted to buy some medical equipment worth up to 900 million Syrian pounds and signed a contract to buy 100 ambulances from Iran.
In this regard, a medical aid cargo arrived in Damascus on Sunday as a gift from Russia to the Syrian people.
Syria's official media said that the aid aims at alleviating the suffering of the Syrians due to the rebels' attacks against health establishments and medicine factories and the economic sanctions imposed on Syria.
Last week, Russia sent an aid to Syria combining 44 tons of medical materials.
The Minister of Health said that the ministry halted all new projects during the current year as a result of current conditions, which led to a decline in investment spending and limited the percentage of projects' implementation to only 6 percent.
The minister made it clear that the health sector does not suffer any shortage of medical and nursing staff, but confessed that there are 62 kinds of medications are missing but not life- threatening.
The director of the Damascus Health Department Yassin Na'nos told the local al-Iqtissadi website that 75 percent of drugs are missing in Damascus and its countryside as a result of the clashes in Syria, stressing however that the government is working with all its efforts on securing the medication in different ways.
He charged that many pharmacists have converted to dealers and are selling drugs, especially imported drugs, at very high prices.
Media reports said that most of pharmaceutical plants have shut down because of the grinding crisis in the country, and what has made matters worse is the recent government's offensive on the northern province of Aleppo where most of the country's pharmaceutical laboratories locate.
Few months ago, Nayef revealed that 32 national hospitals are out of service, adding that six pharmaceutical laboratories were totally destroyed and 68 others are still working but by about 50 percent of their capacity.
Pharmacists, to cope with the shortage and to meet the patients ' demand, have refrained from selling big quantities of drugs and if a patient demands two packets of medicine, they will only give him one.
In most cases, pharmacists would give a customer another kind of medicine with similar pharmaceutical composition as most drugs are no longer available.