Growing drug shortage worries donors

Kathmandu, December 8

External development partners have expressed their deepest concern at critical and growing shortages of essential and lifesaving medicines and supplies at health care facilities across Nepal, as well as the ongoing fuel crisis that has severely impeded service delivery.

“In recognition of the right to timely access to quality health care services, as enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and as detailed in the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights General Comment No. 14 on The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, we emphasise the seriousness of the present situation and its humanitarian implications,” said a joint statement by the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, UNAIDS, UNFPA, UKaid, KOICA and German Development Cooperation today.

The partners said they remain committed to supporting the Government of Nepal in its efforts to ensure safe access to quality health care services.

According to the statement, health care facilities at all levels lack over half of essential supply requirements. Reduced ability to access quality health care services and treatment is already affecting the most vulnerable, including

pregnant and postpartum women, older persons, children, earthquake-affected communities and persons with acute conditions, including obstetric emergencies and chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Disruptions to public health programmes, including routine immunisation, will have an extremely serious and lasting impact on children’s health.

“Access to life-saving emergency services, including surgery, intensive care and blood transfusion, as well as referrals of complicated cases, have been severely impacted.

The health and humanitarian implications of the present scenario are grave. Should the situation be prolonged, the effects will be exacerbated,” warned the statement.

They said they will continue to work closely with the government to jointly explore all options for the provision of immediate assistance.

Available in-country medical supplies have been mobilised and are being distributed to regional, district and zonal hospitals, while concerted efforts are being made to supply additional volumes of drugs to meet immediate needs.

“We urge all sides to address restrictions on the import and free movement of essential supplies including vaccines, drugs and other medical goods as a means of respecting and facilitating the human right to access quality health care services,” read the statement.