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Afghanistan imports $625m worth of drugs annually

AT-KABUL: Afghanistan’s ministry of health on Sunday revealed that over $625 million worth of basic drugs are coming into the country every year as imports, in spite of an expanding domestic pharmaceutical production.

Over $400 million worth of basic drugs are coming into the country every year as imports, threatening the viability of the local industry.

Afghanistan has been importing medicines from at least 29 countries, including the US, Japan, Switzerland, Turkey, India, Pakistan and Iran.

Dr. Noor Shah Kamawal said in the past 95 percent of medicines were imported from various countries, but it had dropped to 92 percent, as eight percent were produced domestically. However, the raw materials were purchased from India and China.

According to Kamawal, 23 pharmaceuticals, manufacturing 120 kinds of drugs, including vitamins, anti-acid, Paracetamol have been operating in Kabul, Nangarhar, Herat, Kandahar and Balkh provinces, Pajhwok Afghan News has reported.

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

However, a number of customers said Iranian and Pakistani medicines have captured 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 had flooded the market.

Meanwhile, buyers raised serious concerns about the low quality of medicines and called on the government to ensure high quality of the medicines.

A resident of Kabul, Abdul Khaliq said prices of the medicines have been touching the sky, but the quality is quite low. He demanded the government to pay proper attention to the health sector.

On the other hand, Kamawal claimed around 150 tons of expired and low-quality drugs were held and destroyed last year, adding at least 190 pharmacies, including those without certificates, were shut down.

“Hundred pharmacies with good performance had been awarded appreciation certificates,” Kamawal noted.

He claimed the government has adopted proper measures of check and balance that increased revenue of the health ministry from 27 million afghanis to 40 million afghanis.

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