Syrians suffering medicinal shortages as war rages

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Syria is suffering from a severe shortage of life-saving medicines, health care infrastructure and workforce amid its escalating conflicts.

Syria's once advanced pharmaceutical industry was brought into almost a complete halt. The country, which used to be the biggest exporter of medicines in the Middle East, is now a major consumer of medicines as it has to meet the needs of 23 million Syrians.

In 2011 before the unrest in Syria, Syrian factories used to produce 90 percent of the country's needs for medical supplies, but now citizens have to struggle to find the basic medicines at high prices.

"Some manufacturers of raw materials have great influence on the pharmaceutical industry. We are in urgent need of the medicines that Syria doesn't have," said Samir Al-Nouri, former chief of Syrian pharmacists syndicate.

Statistics from the World Health Organization showed that at least 35 percent of the country's public hospitals were out of service, and in some governorates, up to 70 percent of the health workforce has fled, resulting in severe shortages in qualified health personnel and limiting the access of those in need to health care services.
Security challenges even left its toll on Syria's human resources. Experts estimate that around 60 percent of its top-class physicians have left the country because of deteriorating circumstances.

The worldwide economic sanctions on Syria have also had an adverse impact on the country's health system
"The influence is huge although economic sanctions don't include strategic supplies or medicines for cancer. However, some companies tried their best not to sign contracts with Syria, which has led to very serious consequences. If patients cannot get chemical treatment in time, they will lose the chance of recovery" said Dr. Amer Sheikh Yousef, a cancer specialist in Damascus.

Though many say that economic sanction is not designed to target citizens, a large number of Syrian patients would beg to differ.

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