Critical shortage of medicine put lives at risk in Nepal

Amnesty International calls for Nepal to take action in hospitals to provide fundamental drugs, medical supplies especially for patients whose life is at risk

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Nepalese students holding placards take part in a protest to show solidarity against the border blockade in Kathmandu, Nepal November 27, 2015.

Amnesty International urged Nepal to take immediate measures to supply essential drugs for treatment. Most people are at risk, especially ones who live in poverty, elderly and the young who suffer from chronic illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

According to a report by the watchdog, some Nepali officials have said that since the beginning of deterioration of the commodity flow at the India-Nepal border, during the protests against Nepal’s new constitution, there has been a serious shortage of crucial medicines and medical services.

“The Nepali authorities’ slow and inadequate action to ensure the continued flow and access to essential medicines is putting people’s lives and health at risk," said the report. 

"Steps must be taken to address this deficit of medical supplies, before it turns into a serious crisis resulting in avoidable deaths and suffering.”

Moreover, ambulances and other vehicles are unable to assist and provide service because of lack of fuel, especially to districts outside of the capital, Kathmandu.

“Steps taken so far by the authorities to prioritise the medical sector’s access to fuel in this time of crisis have been inadequate in practice” the report says.

According to hospitals outside of Kathmandu, to be close to the Indian border is significant in terms of accessing supplies.

Some of the hospitals reported a month ago that changing the route of some goods from the main Raxaul border to India-Nepal border, aids from several international sources and the production of some drugs by Nepali chemist utilizing some imported raw materials eased severe pressure.

"Even these supplies are now running alarmingly low. Regardless of the border situation, the Government of Nepal has to do all in its power to ensure it upholds its obligations under international human rights treaties it has signed, including protecting people’s human right to life and health,” said hospital officials in and outside of Kathmandu.

With the arrival of winter in Nepal, Amnesty International advises Nepal's government to promptly take action to solve the crisis. 

"Provide that people’s life and health are guaranteed and they have ability to attain essential medicines; provide that hospitals have fuel to deliver medical services; ensure that medical workers and hospital stuff should be consulted in terms of solving problems and concerns about current crisis."