‘There is a major concern about drug shortages,’ Belgian health minister says

‘There is a major concern about drug shortages,’ Belgian health minister says
Credit: Belga

The Belgian Government issued a royal decree on Friday, allowing for a ban on the export of medicines in the event of a crisis, the cabinet of Minister of Health, Frank Vandenbroucke, announced on Monday.

Vandenbroucke has sounded the alarm over the possibility of drug shortages in times of crisis. To that end, the Ministry of Health is working directly with the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products (AFMPS) to ensure that the government will “never have to interrupt the vital treatments that some people need,” a press release from the cabinet of the minister stated.

“There is a major concern about the shortage of medicines, in Belgium, as in other countries. On Saturday, we published a royal decree allowing us to limit exports in the event of their unavailability, if they are essential medicines, or if there is an emergency. There is a duty for wholesale distributors to supply our pharmacists first,” he told Belgian television station LN24.

During the televised interview, the minister also referenced the lack of general health practitioners.

In Flanders, new doctors now receive a one-off interest-free loan of up to €35,000 to launch their own practice or join an existing group practice. €10,000 is also paid to nurses and support staff when employed by a practice to lessen the administrative burden on the hiring staff to relieve the staffing shortage.

“We are going to invest significant sums in general medicine but also work on reforms at the organisational level. By March or April, there will be proposals for capacity building in general medicines,” he said. Budgetary efforts will attempt to recruit more assistants and nurses to support the work of GPs.

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