KABUL: Medicine Importers Union says Afghanistan ‘legally’ imports pharmaceutical products worth $700 million on annual basis.
The Medicine Importers Union claims that at least 40 percent of medicine and medical equipment enter the country’s markets ‘illegally’ while many of the pharmaceutical products have a bad quality.
Members of the union also claimed that a number of government organization are ‘involved in importing low-quality medicine into Afghanistan.
“There is a big circle of medicine mafia who are dominating the government contracts and ministries for many years,” said Abdul Khaliq Zazai Watandost, head of the union.
According to statistics provided by the union, Afghanistan legally imports medicine worth $700 million every year. However, some members of the union claim that in some cases the illegal import of the pharmaceutical products surpasses the legal import.
President Ashraf Ghani at a conference this week spoke out about a ‘wrong’ groups who are importing low-quality medicine into the country.
“Medicines in the country are bad quality. A UNDP official purchased pills from the market, but he remained at hospital for two years and suffered much pain. What do you think, what would be the situation of other people. A circle of evil has contracts with the medics and medical stores and they supply them with low-quality medicines, this situation has to change,” said Ghani.
According to the Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan has only one medicine quality control laboratory in the capital city, Kabul.
Waheed Majroh, spokesman for the public health ministry, said corruption still affects the health sector in the country.
“The Ministry of Public Health is a leading institution in the anti-corruption campaign and we have good achievements in this respect. But this sector is still prone to a widespread corruption,” he said.
According to the Ministry of Public Health, Afghans spent at least $300 million on treatment outside the country in the past few years with 90 percent of these patients suffering from heart diseases.
Years of civil war and violence has had a devastating effect on the Afghan healthcare system and unlike other countries in the region, Afghanistan has seen increasing rates of preventable diseases such as diarrhea and respiratory infections.