No Medicines, Emergency Services: Sri Lanka’s Economic Crisis Hits Drug Supplies


Amid the ongoing unrest in the island nation following the economic crisis, Sri Lanka’s national medical association warned that hospitals will be unable to provide even emergency services in the coming weeks because of critical shortages of drugs and medical equipment.

In a letter to Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the medical association wrote that hospitals have already decided to curtail services such as routine surgeries and limit the use of available medical materials for the treatment of life-threatening illnesses.

The association said the shortage of medical equipment will lead to a catastrophic number of deaths. Unless supplies are urgently replenished, “within a matter of weeks, if not days, emergency treatment will also not be possible. This will result in a catastrophic number of deaths,” the letter said.

Thousands of people, including health workers, have been demonstrating this week demanding a solution to the crisis and Rajapaksa’s resignation for economic mismanagement. The president and his older brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, continue to hold power, despite their politically powerful family being the focus of public ire.

The economy of the island country that has been in a free-fall since the onset of the Covid pandemic is now in the throes of a spiralling crisis, with shortages of medicines and food and long power cuts.

The island nation is presently facing a foreign exchange shortage which has led to a food, fuel, power, and gas shortage, and has sought the assistance of friendly countries for economic assistance. Sri Lanka’s currency has been also devalued by almost SLR 90 against the US dollar since March 8.

The government estimates the Covid-19 pandemic has cost Sri Lanka’s tourism-dependent economy $14 billion in the last two years. Its foreign debt repayment obligations are around $7 billion this year alone.

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