“I’m the only doctor in our village clinic. I can’t see fever patients and I don’t have anything for them anyway,” said Dr. Shi from Wangzongdian, a village on the outskirts of the city of Xingyang in Henan province. On Dec. 20, he told Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper that his village had completely run out of cold and flu medicine for nearly two weeks.
“I asked the wholesale department of the county pharmacy for medicine. For a 100-tablet bottle of ibuprofen, the wholesale price has risen to more than 20 yuan ($3) from 3.5 yuan. Regardless, the drug is still out of stock,” he said.
On Dec. 16, the National Health Commission (NHC) issued a notice, requiring village committees and clinics to facilitate timely access to medication and COVID-19 antigen kits for people returning home for the Spring Festival. Township and village clinics must stock up sufficiently to ensure supply to serve 15 to 20% of the local population at any time. They are also required to get enough medical devices such as pulse oximeters and infrared thermometers.