Healthcare Crisis Intensifies as Medical Equipment Providers Cease Supplies

Due to the devaluation of the rupee and the reluctance of banks to issue letters of credit and bank contracts, some medical equipment suppliers have stopped providing essential products, including stents, heart valves, x-ray films, and radioactive materials, to both public and private hospitals.

Manufacturers of medical equipment have alerted the health offices of the provinces of Sindh and Punjab about this situation. The suppliers have cited the rapid decline in the value of the rupee as the reason for their inability to offer medical supplies at the prices listed in last year’s tenders when the dollar was traded at Rs. 220. However, the manufacturers have agreed to deliver the medical supplies at current market rates.

Public health services in Sindh have a limited supply of medical devices that are expected to last for a few weeks, but if the issues with letters of credit and currency depreciation are not addressed promptly, patients may face severe consequences. The provincial authorities have been informed and financial institutions are expected to assist in resolving the matter.

According to one vendor, several health departments, including the Punjab health department, have started accepting bids from medical equipment providers in dollars. There have also been reports of additional import duties being imposed, which the consumers would have to compensate for.

Masood Ahmed, Chairman of the Healthcare Devices Association of Pakistan (HDAP), stated that the medical device companies and suppliers have valid reasons to invoke force majeure, as they face unique challenges in importing devices and chemicals due to the shortage of dollar liquidity and the devaluation of the rupee.

In these circumstances, he believes that medical equipment and diagnostic kit manufacturers should not be held responsible for any delays in deliveries to public and private institutions.