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Afghanistan imports medicine worth $625m annually

Afghanistan imports medicine worth $625m annually

KABUL: Medicines worth more than $600 million is imported into the country annually despite a surge in domestic production from five to eight percent, the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) said on Sunday.

Dr. Noor Shah Kamawal, head of the National Medicines Management Department, told Pajhwok Afghan News drugs were imported from 29 countries, including the US, Turkey, Switzerland, Japan, India, Iran and Pakistan.

In the past, he recalled, 95 percent of medicines were imported, But the import level has now dropped to 92 percent, with eight percent produced domestically. The raw materials are purchased from India and China.

Kamawal said medicine worth $625 million was imported — mostly from China, Iran, India and Pakistan — every year. The imported drugs are checked by his department for quality and efficacy.

Currently, 23 pharmaceuticals are active in Kabul, Nangarhar, Herat, Kandahar and Balkh provinces. They are manufacturing 120 kinds of drugs, including vitamins, anti-acid, paracetamol and others. Producing such medicine requires less efforts and facilities.

Syed Hamid, deputy head of the Salamat Medicine Factory, said local products had surged by 15 percent and the process of monitoring had improved with limited support from the government.

But a number of buyers said Iranian and Pakistani medicines had flooded the local market. Haseebullah, a pharmacy-owner, says most medicines sold in the market were imported from Turkey, Iran, India and Saudi Arabia. But Iranian and Pakistani medicines have captured the market.

Meanwhile, the residents of Kabul complained of the low quality of medicines and urged the authorities concerned to pay proper attention to the public health issue.