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Gaza’s only pharmaceutical factory operates at just 20% capacity

October 1, 2019 at 11:34 am

Empty shelves are seen as doctors in Gaza run short on medicine [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

The only pharmaceutical factory in the Israeli-occupied Gaza Strip is “struggling to survive” and operating at just 20 per cent of its capacity, reported Xinhua. 

Established in 1994 by the Middle East Pharmaceutical and Cosmetics Laboratories Ltd, with production starting in 1999, the factory has been badly hit by the “deteriorating economic situation caused by Israel’s 12-year blockade”.

According to company chair Marwan Al-Astal, products are sold “with low profit margin in order to help alleviate the dire economic conditions faced by the people in Gaza”, adding that “the Israeli blockade and the economic crisis which it brought could terminate our business”.

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Al-Astal told Xinhua that one key factor that has contributed significantly to the decline in the productive capacity of the factory is repeated Israeli military incursions into the plant, “adding that the factory was once seized by the Israeli army for more than three continuous months”.

Israeli air strikes have also periodically caused damage to the factory.

However, the biggest obstacle remains the blockade. “Since the blockade was imposed in 2007, the Israeli authorities prevented the entry of many raw materials needed for the pharmaceutical industry, which reduced the production rate at times to 80 percent,” said Al-Astal.

Secretary of the Federation of Construction Industries, Mohammed Al-Assar, told Xinhua that Israeli restrictions have led to significant losses in the private industrial sector in general and industrial construction sector in particular.

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“He added that Israel continues to ban the entry of about 400 items of raw materials and goods into Gaza, impeding the reconstruction of what was destroyed during the 2014 war,” reported Xinhua.

Factory manager Sami Al-Taaban said the plant uses 20 per cent of its production capacity.

“However, we managed to find alternatives to maintain the minimum profits as well as keeping our workers. The alternative was producing other varieties of medicines and cosmetics to ensure the continuity of work,” Al-Taaban told Xinhua.