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Sudan announces reduction of medicine prices

November 27 - 2016 KHARTOUM
Health Minister Bahr Abu Garda announces a reduction of medicines prices, 25 November 2016 (Suna)
Health Minister Bahr Abu Garda announces a reduction of medicines prices, 25 November 2016 (Suna)

The Sudanese Ministry of Health has dismissed a list of new medicine prices, issued by the National Medicines and Toxins Council (MTC).

On Friday, Health Minister Bahar Abu Garda, announced a reduction of the prices of life-saving medicines, including medication for hypertension, diabetes, Parkinson's, and mental diseases.

“The government will shoulder the difference in Dollar rates resulting from the Bank measure,” he told reporters in a press conference in Khartoum.

In mid-November, the Central Bank of Sudan cancelled the subsidised US Dollar rate of SDG7,5 for the import of medicines. The new Dollar rate rose to SDG17,50. Medicines prices doubled and in some cases even tripled. Pharmacies closed their doors in protest, and in several Sudanese towns people took to the streets to demonstrate against the sky-rocketing prices.

Reasonable’

The increase of other medicines prices “will be reasonable”, the Minister stated. The government will continue to support the Sudanese through health insurance coverages.

Abu Garda said that the pharmaceutical price list included “many errors and distortions”. He held the MTC secretary-general responsible for the errors and the unprecedented rise of the medicine prices.

Defect’

Medical doctors and pharmacists, however, downplayed the importance of the measures announced by the Ministry of Health.

“The decisions will not resolve the problems in the pharmaceutical sector,” Dr Sayed Ginat, a regular health columnist in the Sudanese media, commented. “The authorities decided to cancel the Central Bank’s decision only under pressure of protests and demonstrations.

“The government’s recent decisions concerning the medicines’ prices reveal a defect in the health sector’s mentality,” he said.

Subsidy cuts

On 3 November, the Minister of Finance announced the liberalisation of fuel prices in the country. The measures that took effect the next day are part of an economic reform programme, which according to President Omar Al Bashir was needed “to avoid the collapse of the country”.

As the ongoing shortages of hard currency at the Central Bank of Sudan continued to push the black market rate of the US Dollar upwards this year, the government decided to liberalise the fuel and electricity tariffs, and the official hard currency rates for a number of import goods and services this month.

The hard currency rate on the black market in Sudan began to rise rapidly in 2010. In September that year, the Central Bank of Sudan announced that the lack of hard currency was becoming acute. The secession of South Sudan in July 2011, with which Sudan lost two-thirds of its oil revenues, an important source of hard currency, exacerbated the crisis.


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