Egyptian social media users launch campaign in protest of medicine shortage

Ahram Online , Sunday 6 Dec 2015

A file photo for a pharmacy in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

Social media users in Egypt launched a campaign earlier this month in protest of a shortage in the country of medicines used to treat some chronic illnesses.

The campaign, named El-Dawae Haq (Arabic for "medicine is a right"), is a trending topic on Twitter, with users sharing the names of some of the medicines in shortage.

Egypt's Pharmacists Syndicate announced on Sunday its solidarity with the campaign.

"Proceeding from its role in assuring the health of Egyptian citizens and the essence of medicine as a right guaranteed by the constitution, we support all valuable initiatives established by civil society and intellectuals who are concerned with this matter," said a statement by Ahmed Abu Douma, the syndicate's media spokesperson.

Several public figures commented on the campaign, most notably Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt's former vice president and the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who tweeted about the issue on Saturday.

"The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Everyone has the right to a standard of living that ensures the maintenance of health... This includes medical care," he wrote on his twitter account.

Within the past months, pharmacists countrywide have reported increasingly acute shortages of locally-produced and imported pharmaceutical products, and some media reports estimate that nearly 800 types of medicine are not available in the Egyptian market. Official figures released by the Ministry of Health last month indicate that at least 186 types of medicine are unavailable in the market, some of which are prescribed for chronic diseases.

According to some pharmacists, local drug manufacturers have reacted to Egypt's difficult economic circumstances by discontinuing production of several low-priced pharmaceutical products or exporting those products to markets abroad due to Egypt's rigid pricing constraints.

Figures released by Egypt's Pharmacists Syndicate in October indicate that local pharmaceutical companies covered 85 percent of the Egyptian market demands in 1969, but now cover only 6.3 percent. 

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