Rural Hama, Syria— Unlicensed pharmacies have constituted a widespread phenomenon in the country, even in the period before the Syrian revolution, resulting from an absent strict governmental censorship. In the past a few years, the phenomenon developed widely, especially in the regions under the Syrian opposition due to the administrative chose there.
Unqualified people run most of those unlicensed pharmacies. This is “a crime,” according to Suhaib al-Wahid, the Administrative Director of Hama Health Directorate (HHD), for these practices jeopardize the lives of the sick people because giving the patients unprescribed medicines or treatments without a medical diagnosis might kill them.
The Immigration of Graduate Students led to the Prevalence of Unlicensed Pharmacies
In an interview with Enab Baladi, Al-Wahid attributed the prevalence of this phenomenon to the lacking cooperation between Hama Health Directorate and the military factions and the local councils in the region. He pointed out that, currently, there is no mechanism to stop such violations even though many civilians and pharmacy specialists have complained repeatedly.
Dr. Salem Abu Mohammed, a worker at a primary health care center in rural Hama, attributed the prevalence of unlicensed pharmacies to the immigration of many pharmacy graduates, whose departure has created a medical gap in the regions under the opposition.
He explained to Enab Baladi that “The departure of graduates has triggered many people, who don’t hold a university degree, to open pharmacies and work in the medical field, in addition to the presence of only a few hospitals and medical points, which are a target for constant shelling, making unlicensed pharmacies so popular among civilians.”
Abu Mohammed stressed that, today, any person has enough capital to open his or her own pharmacy and to start working there, heedless of the required education and experience. This thing endangers the patients and their health, especially upon giving them medicines, which usually need a prescription, such as narcotic drugs, including Tramadol, Zolam and palatine based drugs.
These drugs are being circulated among people in many areas, not for having any health issues, he said, but due to addiction and, more importantly, because these drugs are available in the black market making it easy for the addicted people to get them.
Establishment of Pharmacists Syndicate
The pharmacist Musab Othman, the Director of the Supply Department under Hama Health Directorate, said that since its establishment, the health directorate has sought to regulate the health issue in Hama, in west-central Syria. The directorate has been trying to do this by drawing a medical map of all the liberated areas in the province and has been making a huge effort to come up with laws and regulations to control the unlicensed pharmacies phenomenon.
To control the phenomenon, a number of pharmacists in Hama have formed the nucleus of the Pharmacists Syndicate, last year. Dr. Munaour Mayouf was appointed as the head of the pharmacists of Hama. The syndicate is working on developing laws concerning unlicensed pharmacies and warehouses to save the importance and the credibility of the profession.