Colombo, Apr 30 (EFE).- Sri Lanka raised the prices of dozens of medications by 40 percent Saturday amid severe shortages as the island nation contends with its worst economic crisis since becoming independent in 1948.
Health Minister Channa Jayasumana announced higher prices for 60 commonly used drugs.
Sri Lanka lacks foreign currency to pay for imports and private firms find themselves unable to open letters of credit.
Some hospitals have stopped performing routine surgeries because there are no anesthetics, while the Government Medical Officers Association (GMOA), said early this month that many institutions are facing shortages of hundreds of essential drugs.
“We are managing the situation with alternative drugs, which is not a perfect solution. Basically, the government, by not giving priority to the essential drug import, is playing with the public lives,” a consultant at Colombo National Hospital told Efe, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Weeks ago, Sri Lanka formally defaulted on $51 billion in foreign sovereign debt after exhausting its international reserves.
Doctors have been appealing to Sri Lankan expatriates to send donations of essential medicines.
Sri Lanka maintains a system of free, universal healthcare, but the lack of drugs at state-run hospitals is forcing patients to buy medications for cash from private pharmacies.
The Sri Lankan rupee has depreciated nearly 75 percent since the start of the economic crisis. EFE