Economic crisis | Sri Lanka almost running out of medicine, warn doctors

(Colombo) Sri Lankan doctors warned on Sunday that they were almost out of life-saving medicines, stressing that the economic crisis was likely to claim more victims on the island than the coronavirus pandemic.

Posted at 11:01 a.m.

Weeks of power cuts and severe shortages of food, fuel and pharmaceuticals have plunged many people into misery as Sri Lanka faces its worst recession since independence in 1948.

The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) said on Sunday that hospitals across the country no longer had access to imported medical equipment and life-saving drugs.

Several facilities have already suspended routine operations since last month because they ran out of anaesthetics, and SLMA has stressed that even emergency procedures may not be possible very soon.

“We have to make very difficult choices. We have to decide who will be treated and who will not,” the association lamented, after making public a letter sent to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa a few days earlier to warn him of the situation.

“If supplies are not restored in the coming days, the victims will be many more than those of the pandemic”, underlined the organization of doctors.

The growing anger of the population in the face of the economic crisis has given rise since Saturday to large demonstrations calling for the resignation of President Rajapaksa.

Thousands of people braved heavy rain outside the president’s office in the capital Colombo on Sunday, for the second day in a row.


Photo Eranga Jayawardena, Associated Press

The growing anger of the population in the face of the economic crisis has given rise since Saturday to large demonstrations calling for the resignation of President Rajapaksa.

On Saturday, business leaders joined calls for resignation, saying chronic fuel shortages had drained cash from their businesses.

The government is seeking an IMF (International Monetary Fund) bailout to pull Sri Lanka out of crisis, as food prices have soared and the local currency has lost a third of its value over the past month .

The pandemic has torpedoed vital income from tourism and remittances from workers living abroad to the country.

Economists say the crisis has also been exacerbated by government mismanagement, years of accumulated borrowing and misguided tax cuts.

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