The problem of nonstandard drugs and health services has not been tackled yet despite repeated promises by the government. Kabul residents say the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has failed to close substandard health centers even in the capital.
Hashmatullah, a resident of Kabul’s 5th Police District, says “there is a health clinic in every street of the district”, but there is no proper oversight of those clinics, and none of them are reliable. He claims that drugstores have their own suppliers and own medicine, and there is no standard medication in the market, and everyone sells the drugs without prescription. The low quality medicine not only doesn’t treat diseases, but sometimes also can be dangerous and kill the sick. A doctor from Jamhuriat Hospital told The Heart of Asia they often receive patients suffering from health complications caused by low quality or wrong medicine. “We often receive patients who have been given wrong medication by doctors or pharmacists, or taken low quality medicine, and then faced with health problems.” Nasir Ahmad, a resident of 8th Police District, said there are tens of hospitals in the district, but they neither deliver standard health services nor appear like hospitals. He also complained about the quality of medicine, describing substandard drugs and a lack of government strategy as a big problem of the country’s health sector.
This comes as the Ministry of Public Health said a while ago that 40 percent of the imported drugs were unreliable. However, the owner of a pharmaceutical importer who wished not to be named, told The Heart of Asia that 70 percent of the imported drugs were counterfeit. Some hospitals and doctors have contracts with drug importers and distributers, and prescribe whatever medicine they receive from their suppliers, the sourced revealed. Mohammad Ismail Kawusi, the head of MoPH’s Public Relation Department, says they have a special system for regularly monitoring private health centers, while also admitting problems in some hospitals which were either closed or put on notice a while ago. The Ministry of Public Health, he asserted, suspended licenses of about 800 pharmaceutical companies two months ago for not importing quality medicine to the country. Steps have been taken to improve the quality of medication, he stressed, adding that pharmacies were monitored and their meds checked from time to time. There are about 15,000 drugstores currently operating all over the country so it is difficult to oversee them all, he concluded.
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