"Looming Crisis" Reported by UNICEF-WHO in Former Soviet Republics. Essential Drugs Monitor No. 013 (1992)
(1992; 1 page)


A collaborative mission carried out by UNICEF and the World Health Organization assessed the urgent health and human needs in 14 former Soviet republics. The mission reported a “looming crisis,” especially for women and children, and called for immediate international support. The crisis was caused by the dissolution of USSR, hyperinflation, poor wages, and reduced purchasing power throughout the region. Severe budgetary restraints and lack of personnel with experience in economic affairs have limited the ability of the former Soviet republics to procure drugs produced by other nations. Additionally, local production has collapsed because of shortages of raw materials and hard currency. As a result, drug supply has been disrupted. Despite the shortages, the pharmaceutical distribution system has been successful at allocating the limited resources appropriately. The WHO developed a list of urgently needed essential medicines so that the international community can donate resources accordingly and is urging countries to follow WHO guidelines for donation. A medical working group on the 11 former Soviet republics known as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) was held in Geneva from 30 April to 1 May, 1992 to review the mission’s findings. The group divided the work needed in the CIS into three categories: urgent basic medical needs in short-term, closely-related medium-term restructuring of the health system, and broader social and economic measures to ensure human needs are met during the transition process. The group recommended restructuring at the national level and accelerating international support. At the recommendation of the group, the WHO established a “clearing house” (information exchange centre) to act as a hub of partnership and facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance to republics by the international community. (Abstract by Flannery Bowman, 2013)

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