GENEVA Aug 7 Many of the main drugmakers in
conflict-torn Syria have closed down, causing severe shortages
of medicines for treating chronic diseases and a rising number
of casualties, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on
Before the 17-month-old revolt against President Bashar
al-Assad, Syria produced 90 percent of its medicines and drugs,
but production has been hit by the fighting, lack of raw
materials, impact of sanctions and higher fuel costs, the U.N.
Ninety percent of Syria's pharmaceutical plants are located
in rural Aleppo, Homs and Damascus provinces and they have
suffered substantial damage from the escalation in fighting, WHO
spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said.
"Many of these plants have now closed down as a result of
the ongoing clashes and increased cost of fuel, resulting in a
critical shortage of medicines," he told a U.N. briefing in
Drugs for tuberculosis, hepatitis, hypertension, diabetes
and cancer are urgently needed, as well as hemodialysis for
kidney diseases, according to the WHO.
Health centres have been closed or damaged or taken over by
fighters, while others have been cut off by the violence.
"The health facilities that have stopped functioning are
located in the most affected areas where the urgent need for
medical and surgical interventions is the most prominent,"
The Syrian health ministry has reported that it has "lost"
200 ambulances over the last few weeks, he added.
The heightened violence in the conflict has recently spread
to Syria's two largest cities, Aleppo and the capital Damascus,
exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the major Arab states.
Fear of the fighting has prompted many citizens to leave
their homes. Many banks have run out of cash and the wheat
harvest is likely to be wrecked because of the shortage of
labour, U.N. agencies have said.
The U.N. World Food Programme, which had hoped to provide
850,000 Syrians with food by the end of July, only managed to
reach 542,000, WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs said.
Around 124,000 Syrians have fled across the borders and
registered as refugees, while 1.5 million are estimated to be
displaced within Syria.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Mark Heinrich)