Importers, PMA fear serious shortage of medical, surgery equipment, demand withdrawal of restriction.

KARACHI -- Speakers at a press conference held on Thursday called for immediate steps to avert what they described as an 'imminent humanitarian and healthcare crisis' by withdrawing import restrictions on medical equipment including X-ray films, X-ray printers, imaging plates, ultrasound and mammography machines.

'The current import restrictions on healthcare products will directly impact patients unless prompt actions are taken to avert a disaster (triggered) by the State Bank of Pakistan, the Ministry of National Health Services - Regulations and Coordination, Ministry of Finance and heads of all commercial banks in Pakistan,' Syed Haider Naqvi representing Fujifilm-Pakistan said.

He explained that the current economic situation in the country and its fast-depleting foreign exchange reserves had forced the state and commercial banks to be selective in the issuance of Letter of Credit (LCs) for essential industries such as healthcare.

'Our company is a major supplier of medical equipment and currently faces a situation where LCs are not being opened as per usual banking cycle. Irregular supplies will potentially result in shortages and price gouging, which will have a direct impact on citizens,' Mr Naqvi said.

Pakistan imported healthcare products worth millions of dollars for public and private hospitals and medical facilities, he added.

Syed Jameel Hussain, also representing the company, briefed the audience about the company's imports, which included X-ray films, X-ray printers, X-ray machines, imaging plates, mammography, ultrasound machines, etc.

Earlier, the company used to supply imaging products for photography, cinema and the print media.

'Timely correct diagnosis plays a key role in treatment and recovery. In this respect, X-ray tests provide healthcare providers with critical information...

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