ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday has decided to give one-time permission for import of polio markers from India and reduce prices of 89 medicines by 15 percent.
The markers, which are used to mark the fingers of children after administering them polio vaccine, are approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is worth mentioning that after India’s Aug 5 annexation of occupied Kashmir, the Pakistan government had on Aug 9 decided to suspend all kinds of trade with India.
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However, since a large number of medicines and raw materials are imported from India, the country’s pharmaceutical industry started demanding that the ban be lifted on them because otherwise, Pakistan could face a severe crisis of medicines, especially life-saving drugs, within a few weeks.
Consequently, the government had in September lifted the ban on the import of medicines and raw material from India. National coordinator of the Emergency Operation Centre for Polio Dr Rana Safdar, while talking to media, said that non-toxic markers were required for marking the fingers of children.
“There are only two WHO pre-qualified manufacturers in the world, in India and China, which manufacture non-toxic markers as children can swallow the ink. Though WHO procures markers for us and, in the past, it had purchased markers from China, there were issues with the quality of markers. We had lodged a complaint that the marks faded before the post-monitoring team’s visit,” he said.
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“WHO had started procurement from India and, before the announcement of the ban, it had given the order for 800,000 markers to the manufacturer, but the stock could not be delivered due to the ban.
But now because of the decision of one-time lifting of the ban, we will get the markers. Meanwhile, the Chinese manufacturer has been contacted to provide us quality markers,” he added.