Medicine Smuggling: A Continued Threat to Yemenis' Health

Sheba Intelligence | 2024-02-14 11:29 AM UTC


Smugglers in Yemen still find room to operate and illegally transport medicines from other countries to several Yemeni provinces, risking the lives of thousands of Yemenis.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Authority for Medicines and Medical Supplies in Taiz destroyed 2 tons of smuggled medicines, which were seized by the military police as those quantities of drugs were on the way to Taiz City.

The Director General of the Supreme Authority for Medicines and Medical Supplies, Dr. Muhammad Al-Sufi, said that the destruction process of the smuggled medicines came in implementation of the directives of Taiz governor, Nabil Shamsan, and within the plan of the Supreme Authority for Medicines and Medical Supplies for the year 2024 in combating smuggled medicines in partnership with the relevant authorities.

Al-Sufi indicated that the smuggled medicines are a silent killer of patients, calling on all owners of pharmaceutical facilities, wholesale and retail, not to deal with smuggled medicines, which are of unknown origin, urging pharmacists to report such medicines to concerned authorities.

Since the outbreak of the war in 2015, the health sector has seen a considerable collapse, and medicine smuggling has been one of the challenges facing health authorities during wartime.

Several reasons led to the rise of the drug smuggling phenomenon in Yemen, including import difficulties, high prices, and shortage of particular types of medications.

This prompted several individuals to import medicines illegally to be sold in different Yemeni provinces, making handsome profits without being subjected to medical tests and checks that prove their compliance with specifications and suitability for use.

In May last year, the Health Ministry in Sanaa said it destroyed 60 tons of smuggled medicines and medical supplies that did not meet specifications and standards.

In September last year, Sheba Intelligence published a report on smuggled and counterfeit medicines in Yemen, revealing the gravity of this phenomenon.

Dr. Abdul Qadir Al-BakIri, Director General of the Supreme Authority for Medicines and Medical Supplies in Aden, told Sheba Intelligence the quality of smuggled medicines is worse affected, and fighting medicines smuggling is not the responsibility of the Supreme Authority for Medicines. It is the responsibility of those guarding borders.

He called for raising awareness about the issue so that "importing unchecked medicines is stopped and controlled, companies flouting rules are seized, and the legal and regulated import process is facilitated for the entry of authorized medicines."

In 2022,   11 children died in a hospital in the capital, Sanaa, after they were injected with an expired dose of medicine. The First Instance Court in Sanaa last year convicted three individuals involved in this issue, and the court ruling punished them with imprisonment for one year with a suspended sentence, obligating them to pay blood money for the wrongful killing of the 11 children.