The GCC's top health official is urging the countries to ensure they have alternative sources of vital drugs in case the disruption caused by the Icelandic volcano is not resolved soon. Many critical drugs, including insulin and a number of vaccines, are not made locally and must be flown into the region in special refrigerated containers. If they are not kept correctly, they will spoil.
"We need to take this very seriously," said Dr Tawfiq Khoja, director general of the GCC executive board of the health ministers. "I would recommend that countries focus on the lifesaving drugs rather than cosmetics. They should try and keep four to six months' worth of emergency stock." He urged Gulf countries to "think seriously" about the impact of the flight disruption. "Countries could look at sourcing medicines from other countries outside Europe, such as India, but they must not compromise on quality, this is very important."
Dr Lamya el Barasi, chief pharmacist with Al Noor Hospital group in Abu Dhabi, said the company was looking at all its stock levels of perishable drugs. "We will meet today to discuss our purchasing and import," she said. "It may be that we increase our orders to be better prepared for the future. No one seems to know how long this will last. "Insulin is very important here and even a few hours at the wrong temperature can affect it. It is the same for vaccines."