No doubt, coronavirus is a deadly viral disease killing people without any discrimination all over the globe. Wealthy, healthy, young, elders, male or female, all are victims of this virus. It started from one Chinese local market and took over all countries within a couple of months. All developed and developing countries are suffering from it.
With the start of this deadly pandemic the priorities of governments and strategic planners have been changed even the priority sectors also been changed. The demand for surgical, medical and pharmaceutical items increased. Importance of Medical and paramedical staff increased and in some countries retired medical staff called back for a job.
All over the world relevant departments are trying to provide all required medicines, surgical items and medical facilities to control the situation so the demand for these types of items and services increased. The role of the private sector is also very helpful in providing these items and services according to their capacities on reasonable prices. Governments and authorities are ensuring to maintain the balance between demand, supply and prices of required items and services.
Unfortunately, in our country, the majority of our people took it as a blessing for their private businesses at small and medium level. Due to the limited financial and human resources, our public sector departments are trying their level best to provide required services and items to all facility centers. But the role and approach of the private sector is totally different as compared to the private sector of other countries.
To make it clearer, let’s take a few examples from different relevant Pakistani sectors.
With the rise of this virus, the demand of surgical items like normal face masks, gloves, personal protection kits, KN95 masks, sanitizers and disinfection liquids or chemicals has increased. But initially, due to the limited manufacturing resources, a huge gap between demand and supply caused the shortage of these items. And the opportunists and middlemen in the market took it as a blessing for their private businesses so they planned and acted accordingly to hold these items to get maximum profit from needy, poor and deserving patients.
End users have no other option, so they have to buy the required items at any price and the relevant mafia is grabbing huge profit from poor patients. After coronavirus the prices of these items increased as follows in PKR. The prices of a normal face mask increased from Rs175 to Rs1,400 per packet, KN95 masks from Rs250 to Rs2,000 per unit, hand sanitizers from Rs500 to Rs3,500 per liter, personal protection kits Rs350 to Rs1,500 per unit, gloves Rs500 to Rs1,200 per packet and disinfection chemicals (low quality or fake) prices increased with triple ratio.
End users have no other option, so they have to buy the required items at any price and the relevant mafia is grabbing huge profit from poor patients
The same issue is being observed in pharmaceuticals. We take the example of only one life saving injection which is being used by doctors to recover the lungs of patients. Unfortunately it is not easily available in the market because of its increasing demand. If someone approaches the company, its distributors or suppliers, they are charging Rs 55,000.
Almost every doctor in private hospitals is prescribing this injection for coronavirus patients being treated in the ICU and people are compelled to get this medicine at Rs55,000 to Rs140,000 in black market. Prices can vary from city to city.
Now, let’s take one example from herbs. The price of Senna makki has also dramatically increased on the basis of some viral social media posts. No matter how this herb can work against corona but the prices of this dry herb will also shock you. Before coronavirus the price of Senna makki was very low and when shopkeepers realized that customers are demanding this herb to get a cure from the virus, they increased the price of this herb from Rs300 to Rs1,800 per kilogram in the open market.
These were some examples from the lower middle class business community. The behavior of the private medical sector is also not very satisfactory. Due to high pressure on public sector health resources, citizens are preferring private hospitals at least to get some treatment for their patients but ironically, private hospitals have also increased the prices of their treatments especially for COVID patients.
Moreover, after the successful trial of plasma therapy, when the government approved this treatment in different facility centers, opportunists and middlemen started business by convincing recovered COVID patients on different amounts and charging different amounts to patients. And the amount difference is huge. Although, in Islam, blood donation means donor will donate plasma or blood without any payment or greed. But as the majority of our people are not financially sound so money attracts us a lot. Patients started offering money to donors for donations.
The purpose to compile and share all these examples is to tell us how we took coronavirus as a blessing for our businesses in Pakistan. No matter how the victims or patients are suffering badly. Fortunately we took corona as a golden business opportunity and earned unlawful profits from these types of necessary items and services which is totally forbidden in all religions. But as a nation we have lost our dignity and we prefer personal benefits instead of others’ benefits.
Why our approach is different from other nations. Our religion never allows all these practices but now the majority of our people simply ignore all guidelines and instructions from shari’a and follow their personal benefits, profits and greed. Our scholars and policy makers should also investigate all this so that we can at least change the system and arrange to raise our upcoming generations on ethics.
This article was originally published at: https://dailytimes.com.pk/627612/covid-19-a-golden-business-opportunity-in-pakistan/
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.