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News: Clashes disrupt vital medical supplies in Amhara region, leaving hospitals in distress

Debre Markos General Hospital and other health institutions operating in the Amhara region are experiencing deficiencies in medication for chronic illnesses such as diabetes, as well as laboratory diagnostic reagents (Photo: Social Media)

Addis Abeba – The ongoing clashes in the Amhara region have resulted in detrimental consequences, particularly in the healthcare sector. Vital supply lines have been severely disrupted, leading to acute shortages of medical supplies in hospitals.

Regional health officials have expressed their concerns to Addis Standard, revealing that health institutions in the region are grappling with scarcity of crucial medicines for chronic illnesses such as diabetes as well as laboratory diagnostic reagents.

Andualem Geremew, medical director of Debre Markos General Hospital, said shortfalls in medicines for chronic conditions like diabetes are particularly concerning. He attributed the shortages to road closures caused by fighting in surrounding districts, which have prevented the delivery of sufficient resupplies from the federal and regional governments.

The lack of adequate supplies in Debre Markos and its surrounding areas has left nine other hospitals in distress, according to the medical director. “Unfortunately, both the federal and regional governments have been unsuccessful in providing the required resupplies.”

Solomon Legese, Medical Director at Dabat Hospital, located in North Gondar Zone, also confirmed that transport blockages have resulted in a lack of medicines to manage prevalent chronic illnesses such as asthma and hypertension. He noted that while the hospital has received limited aid from local NGOs, there remains a significant gap in obtaining needed medical supplies.

Assefa Negash, head of the Wagimra Zone Health Office, highlighted the significant gap in available medical supplies, particularly impacting women and children reliant on medically prescribed supplementary feeding programs. He elaborated that due to road closures isolating the zone, local authorities have been unable to obtain these vital supplements from usual sources in Gonder and Kombolcha.

Assefa also acknowledged shortfalls in medicines across the zone but assured that the office is making diligent efforts to fulfill its responsibilities to meet residents’ health needs.

Officials of the Ethiopian Pharmaceutical Supply Service Agency (EPSA) confirmed the crisis, stating that it has not been able to distribute medicines throughout Amhara due to insecurity blocking road transport from central warehouses. EPSA Deputy Director Tariku Belachew explained to VOA that air shipments have been the only option to reach major cities like Bahir Dar, Desse, and Gondar since June 2023, as ongoing conflicts prevent overland delivery to more remote zones and districts.

However, Eshetie Shumie, general manager of EPSA Dessie Branch, rejected claims that medicines are not reaching Amhara districts, stating that critical supplies still flow to zones and districts across the embattled region despite temporary conflict-related delays.

The ongoing instability and violence in the region have also obstructed other essential supplies, including emergency food and soil fertilizer, according to regional authorities, who stress that “extremist forces” are looting supplies and hindering timely provision to farmers.

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Mesfin Dereje, communication of the Ethiopian Red Cross, recently revealed to Addis Standard that a dispatched truck to Wagimra Zone carrying emergency food remains stuck in Bahir Dar due to conflict repeatedly closing roads and preventing humanitarian access to Amhara cities and towns. AS

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