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No shortage of drugs in govt hospitals: Official
By Diana Marwan Al-Jassem
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 18 - 02 - 2010

A senior health official in the city has termed reports of a shortage of drugs in pharmacies in government-run hospitals as “baseless and absurd”.
“We are providing all hospitals belonging to the Ministry of Health with the required drugs, and reports to the contrary are baseless,” Dr. Abdullah Al-Zahrani, Director of the Drugs Supply Department at Jeddah Health Affairs Management, told Saudi Gazette.
However, the official refused to explain the procedures that should be followed by patients if any prescribed medicine is not available in government hospital pharmacies.
The official was reacting to reports quoting several doctors and patients complaining about a shortage of drugs in pharmacies.
Talking to Saudi Gazette, Dr. Wafa'a Fakih, Associate Professor at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, and consultant for women's diseases in King Abdulaziz University Hospital, confirmed that there was an acute shortage of drugs in government hospitals. “Medicines for chronic diseases are hard to find,” Fakih said.
“Most of the patients of King Abdulaziz University Hospital ask their doctors to prescribe alternative medicines as the prescribed drugs are reported to be unavailable in pharmacies,” she said.
In many cases, she said, it is impossible to prescribe alternative medicines.
“Changing the prescribed drugs is difficult, especially in cases of diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, and inflammatory diseases,” she said.
SR61 billion has been allocated for the health sector and social development services in the State budget for the current fiscal year. It represents a 17 percent increase in last year's allocation.
The budget envisages new health projects including stimulating primary health care centers in all regions of the Kingdom.
Out of the budgetary allocations, Fakih said, it is imperative that pharmacies and medical centers are provided with the required drugs. The shortage of medicines in government hospital pharmacies is one of the most prominent problems that should be addressed immediately, Fakih said.
A pharmacist in a maternity hospital, who requested anonymity, echoed Dr. Fakih's assertion that government hospitals are in urgent need of drugs. “Several important medicines, especially for chronic diseases, are not available in my pharmacy,” she said.

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