Pharmacy under fire: managing medicines in war zones

In this episode of The PJ Pod, we explore the challenges pharmacists face while working in conflict areas, such as Gaza, Ukraine and Sudan.
Illustration of a supply box of medicine with a tattered parachute descending diagonally to the ground, in the background a hazy battleground smokes

Please note that the episode includes discussions of war and injury that may be distressing to some listeners, with stories from pharmacists working in Sudan, Ukraine and Gaza.

Horrific stories of injury and death in war zones across the world have become a staple of daily news headlines since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. In an effort to help, the UK government and grassroots organisations have sent packages of aid — including medicines — to support local healthcare systems. However, pharmacists on the ground have reported that large portions of the supplies sent go to waste and have called for a shift towards aid that is more targeted to the needs of their patients.

In this episode of The PJ Pod, David Lipanovic, senior clinical reporter, speaks to pharmacists with first-hand experience in sourcing medicines to treat patients with both chronic and acute conditions in areas of conflict. We hear from them about what medicines their patients desperately need and when medicines that are not needed go to waste.

Thank you to Saleyha Ahsan, a humanitarian doctor undertaking research into how patients are impacted by the destruction of healthcare in war zone at the University of Cambridge; María Alejandra Martin Escalona, a humanitarian pharmacist working for Doctors Without Borders; Mark Koziol, chair of the Pharmacists’ Defence Association; and Catherine Duggan, chief executive of the International Pharmaceutical Federation.

This episode was produced by Geoff Marsh, with editorial support from executive editor Carolyn Wickware.


Information on the Medicines to Ukraine campaign:

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) pharmacists:

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Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, PJ, April 2024, Vol 312, No 7984;312(7984)::DOI:10.1211/PJ.2024.1.310133

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