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Syrian Government Looks East for New Sources of Medicine

Syria's prime minister recently said his country will search for alternative markets to secure medicines. Medical drugs are in short supply because of the conflict between supporters and opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is trying to crush the revolt against his rule. The violence has raised an outcry in Western countries and some Arab states. The European Union and the United States have placed sanctions on the Syrian government as a result of the violence, but these sanctions are also having a negative effect.

Medicine is in short supply. The prime minister has said his country will "go east" in search of new providers of medicine. Recently, he said Syria will look to China, Iran, Korea, Latin America and Russia for some medicines. He added that a number of international organizations are cooperating with the Syrian government to provided necessary drugs.

The World Health Organization said in August that many of the main drug makers in Syria have closed down. This has caused severe shortages of medicines for treating chronic diseases. Syria's Health Minister said the most needed drugs are hormonal treatments and cancer medicines.

Syria used to produce most of its medicines and drugs before the violence started. Ninety percent of Syria's pharmaceutical factories are in the Provinces of Aleppo, Homs and Damascus. They have suffered damage from the fighting.

The World Health Organization also says production has been hurt from a lack of raw materials and higher fuel costs.Some hospitals and health centers have stopped operating because of a lack of workers or supplies. Others have been damaged or taken over by fighters.

For VOA Learning English, I'm Carolyn Presutti.