As Sudan battles mounting cases of coronavirus, the country is reportedly in the throes of acute medicine shortages, a part of economic woes largely blamed on the policies of ousted president Omar al-Bashir.
As reported by AFP, Healthcare providers have reported shortages of basic medications in pharmacies and hospitals, while patients suffering from critical diseases struggle to find drugs.
AFP reports protests by dozens of pharmacists in Khartoum, the country’s capital holding banners that read: “Lack of drugs kills in silence” and “Medications are a right, not a privilege.”
The protesters are demanding that Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who took office in August heading a post-Bashir transitional administration, make funds available to import medicine.
“There will be no concessions or compromises on people’s health rights. We will not tolerate this,” a Sudanese pharmacists’ union said in a statement, according to AFP.
The union is part of the Sudanese Professionals Association, which organised the anti-Bashir protests that kicked off in December 2018.
Economic hardship played a major role in triggering the months-long protests against Bashir, who was finally ousted by the military in April 2019.
During his 30-year rule, Sudan’s economy suffered severe blows ranging from decades-long US sanctions to the 2011 secession of the country’s oil-rich south.
Sudan still faces daunting economic challenges more than a year after his removal from power.
The International Monetary Fund says Sudan’s economy “contracted by 2.5 percent in 2019 and is projected to shrink by 8 percent in 2020” because of the pandemic.
Other challenges include galloping inflation, massive public debt and acute foreign currency shortages.
Health Minister Akram Ali al-Tom has blamed the shortages on the country’s finances and hard currency shortages.
“The crisis is due to financial problems and the government’s inability to provide foreign currency for imports,” he told the official news agency SUNA – AFP
The pharmaceutical industry is suffering the aftermaths of the currency scarcity. Out of 27 local factories which cover nearly 45 percent of Sudan’s needs, only 19 are reported still operational, according to the trade ministry.
In a bid to recover the health system, some doctors in collaboration with other volunteers have set up a small centre in the Shambat district of northern Khartoum to treat patients and offer limited medication, according to AFP.
A doctor, Amal Taggedine, said they appeal for people with surplus medicines to bring them to the centre to help others.
“We now have a small pharmacy in the centre… and we offer patients everything including sanitisers and face masks at low prices,” she said.