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Emerging Drug Crisis in Shanghai due to COVID-19 Lockdown

In addition to the difficulty of buying groceries during the Shanghai lockdown, people are facing a major problem in obtaining medication. According to the mainland Chinese media, after Shanghai was locked down for many days, the demand for medicine in the sealed zone increased. Patients who cannot  get their medicine in a timely manner are facing a drug crisis.

Wu Jinglei, director of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, said that, for medications for common and chronic diseases, the community volunteers would help pick up the medication on the patients behalf from the local community health service centers. However, many people are still not able to get their medication.

According to the government’s arrangement, patients would submit their medication information and health insurance cards to the community committee, which is China’s grassroots level government body in urban areas. The community committee would then aggregate the information and go to the hospital for drug dispensing. However, many of the steps may encounter difficulties and render the process unsuccessful. The difficulties include the quota restriction for the community committee, lack of local couriers for delivery, the unavailability of medication at the hospital, and the long waiting time for dispensing.

Weibo, the Chinese microblogging platform, is flooded with Shanghainese seeking help. One poster’s family member was diagnosed with tuberculosis in December 2021 and was once hospitalized. However, because of the epidemic control, he was unable to go out to refill the prescriptions and was refused help from the local community committee. Another netizen said that an elderly family member has years of coronary heart disease. As the medication is not available from nearby pharmacies, the community committee tried and failed to get the drugs.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), April 12, 2022