Due to import restrictions, concerns about a healthcare crisis grow


ISLAMABAD: Following the recent restriction requiring registration with the Drug Regula­tory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) for the import of medical and surgical equipment, the Health Care Devices Association (HDA) has issued a warning to the relevant authorities regarding the potential for disruption of medical and surgical treatment facilities located throughout the country.

“Drap has not been able to make decisions on the majority of the registration applications submitted over the past few years, and only about 3,000 applications have been dealt with so far, despite the fact that there are more than 300,000 medical products used in Pakistan. Adnan Ahmed Siddiqui, senior vice chairman of the association, stated, “Drap extended the time for registration through SRO 526 until December 31, 2022, after which all unregistered medical devices and laboratory tests cannot be legally imported and sold on January 1, 2023.”

He stated that there was a growing concern about a serious crisis in the provision of medical facilities. Numerous people’s lives are in jeopardy as the shutdown of medical facilities and life-saving surgeries has begun in Pakistan. Many people in the country face the devastating reality of not having access to essential healthcare, he stated.

He claims that the shortage of medical facilities may get worse in the coming days as a result of the ban on the import of medical and surgical machinery and equipment.

He claimed that Drap had made medical device registration a requirement, and then the import policy was made dependent on a Drap certificate.

He also stated that, despite the State Bank of Pakistan’s directive to banks to prioritize payments for pharmaceuticals, surgical supplies, medical devices, and diagnostic products, there were difficulties opening LCs at local banks due to foreign exchange.

Mr. Siddiqui stated that as a result, imports were nearly stopped, noting that medical devices include surgical and laboratory instruments as well as other hospital equipment.

“Medical devices include ultrasound, X-ray, CT scan, and MRI machines, as well as syringes, cannulas, blood sugar and blood pressure measuring devices. Without medical devices, no hospital can provide healthcare facilities. Due to the stoppage of imports, the process of providing health care in hospitals has begun to cease, as 90% of the medical devices utilized in Pakistani hospitals are imported, he stated.

Mr. Siddiqui stated, The issue is well-known to Drap, the federal health department, and other high-ranking officials. The situation may develop into a serious humanitarian crisis if these issues are not resolved immediately. He added that there was a serious concern that the supply of medical facilities and equipment for surgeries that could save lives would be disrupted across the nation.

He stated that the crisis in the supply of medical facilities and surgical equipment would worsen in the coming days if the relevant institutions did not take immediate action to allay those concerns.

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