Panjshir Province residents are voicing concerns over the Taliban health officials’ inadequate supervision of local pharmacies. They assert that certain pharmacies sell medications at arbitrary prices, with drug costs higher than in other provinces, posing affordability challenges for most residents. The residents further claim that many pharmacy employees lack professional qualifications.
Despite the Taliban’s health ministry officials consistently claiming “serious oversight” through promotional videos of pharmacies in Kabul and other provinces, Panjshir residents assert that some pharmacies in their province freely sell medicines at any price.
Mustafa, a resident of Rokha district in Panjshir Province, spoke to the Hasht-e Subh Daily, expressing concern that some pharmacies in the province are selling medicines at “double” the original price.
He added, “Some pharmacies in this province raise the prices of medicines to the extent that people cannot afford them. For example, two days ago, a cough syrup that I used to buy for 80 Afghanis, this time in another pharmacy, they priced it at 110 Afghanis for me.”
This Panjshir resident emphasizes, “When we ask the pharmacy sellers why they are selling at this price, they tell us that this medicine is original and from a certain company or country, while both are from the same company.”
According to residents of Panjshir, in conditions of widespread poverty and hardship, they are unable to afford medicines at exorbitant prices.
Mukhtar Ahmad, another resident of Panjshir, states that the cost of medicines in this province is higher compared to other provinces.
He adds, “Panjshir is both a cold and mountainous province and, on the other hand, it is a war-torn province. Currently, all people are grappling with poverty, but medicine sellers are unjust. medicine sellers sell it at any price they desire.”
Mukhtar Ahmad states, “Overall, the medicine prices in this province are higher compared to any other province. All our troubles have piled up.”
Furthermore, some residents of Panjshir claim that most individuals working in pharmacies are non-professionals.
Fayez Forotan, a resident of the Darah district, states that most individuals working in pharmacies in this province are not pharmacists.
He adds, “The majority of those working in pharmacies are not pharmacists; they have merely learned traditional medicine-selling methods. I even know someone working in a pharmacy who identifies medicines based on their smell and color!”
Forotan says, “In the past, it was better; there was oversight over pharmacies, and measures were taken to some extent against price gouging and non-professionals. But now, everyone claims to be a doctor or pharmacist.”
Residents of Panjshir accuse the Taliban-led Ministry of Health of a lack of “proper oversight” over the pharmacies in this province.
Ahmad (pseudonym), a resident of Rokha district, claims that some employees of the Panjshir Directorate of Health, in collusion with the Taliban, accept “bribes” from private clinics and pharmacies in the province.
Ahmad says, “Because the Health Department does not supervise them, some private clinics and pharmacies bribe the employees of this department. This happens in collusion with the Taliban because they sell medicines at double the original price, and they don’t care about the people’s well-being.”
However, residents of Panjshir are urging the Taliban to conduct serious oversight over health clinics and pharmacies in this province.
Abdul Motaleb, a resident of central Panjshir, tells the Hasht-e Subh Daily, “We see that Taliban officials visit pharmacies in Kabul and some other provinces, supervise them, and then share the videos on social networks. If they are genuinely overseeing and it’s not just a show, they should also visit Panjshir.”
However, local Taliban officials in the province of Panjshir have not yet commented on these allegations.
This comes as, following the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan, unemployment, poverty, and insecurity have increased. With the onset of winter, seasonal diseases have also become more prevalent among impoverished and vulnerable families.
Furthermore, approximately a year ago, Panjshir province witnessed intense clashes between the forces of the National Resistance Front of Afghanistan (NRF) and the Taliban.
These conflicts, in addition to causing casualties among the warring parties and civilians, have plunged the residents of Panjshir into extreme poverty.