Business & Economy

Economic crisis in Sri Lanka leads to severe drug shortage

Colombo, Mar 29 (EFE).- The severe economic crisis in Sri Lanka, which has caused a shortage of fuel and food, has also led to a lack of essential medicines while the government seeks financial assistance from India and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Teaching Hospital attached to University of Peradeniya in central district of Kandy, which according to its website attends to some 2.4 million people, said Tuesday it has been forced to suspend routine surgeries because of the shortage of essential drugs.

Although it later withdrew its statement and said surgeries would continue, it underlined the grave crisis that has now even affected the country’s healthcare system.

“There is a shortage of several essential drugs and consumable items used for anesthesia and surgery at our hospital,” the Peradeniya hospital said.

On learning about the shortage, India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, currently on a visit to Colombo, tweeted that he was “disturbed to see this news” and offered India’s help through its High Commission.

The economic crisis in the island nation has been marked by a severe shortage of foreign currency, the worst since its independence in 1948, to import drugs and fuel.

Before the hospital’s announcement to suspend routine surgery, long queues were seen outside pharmacies after some 80 drugs went out of stock due to lack of dollars to import them.

Meanwhile, several drug importers have said they are compelled to buy dollars at a high price from the gray market as banks were not in a position to provide the foreign currency and they were unable to cover the cost because of the government’s regulated price.

On Monday, the government allowed drug price hike, also affected by the depreciating local rupee, which has fallen over 50 percent since Mar.7.

Sri Lanka currently lacks sufficient US dollars to import essentials like wheat flour, milk powder, fuel, and medicines. EFE


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