ASSAD-CARE: The Syrian Arab Red Crescent closed one of its main pharmacies in the East Ghouta city of Douma as the regime’s blockade of the de facto local rebel capital caused it to run out of medicine.
“The unavailability of medicine isn’t because of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent [SARC], but because of the blockade,” Majed Abu Ali, a local doctor in Douma, told Syria Direct on Thursday, noting that the organization buys millions of dollars’ worth of medicine annually.
Douma has been completely encircled by regime forces since late 2014 when the government closed the last supply line into the city.
The SARC’s Douma Division announced the closure of the pharmacy in its emergency center on its Facebook page on Wednesday, posting a picture of a sign reading: “The pharmacy is completely closed until further notice due to lack of medicine.”
The SARC also said in its post that the pharmacy has been offering free medication since 2013, and filled 40,000 prescriptions in 2014 alone.
“The SARC is only able to get small amounts of medicine in sporadically, when the regime allows” said Abu Ali.
Abu Adnan, a doctor with the Unified Medical Office in Douma, told Syria Direct that the only way to get medicine into the area is through smuggling.
“If patients with chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure cannot get their individual medications in, then of course truckloads are not allowed in,” said Abu Adnan.
Anyone caught bringing any amount of medicine—even for personal use—through the checkpoints is subject to arrest by regime forces, he continued.
“In the shadow of the blockade, residents of East Ghouta don’t heed expiration dates. Medicine is given to patients, when there is medicine, regardless of the expiration date.”
-April 2, 2015
-Photo courtesy of SARC Douma Branch