Sudanese continue to suffer from soaring medicine prices

People in Sudan who suffer from chronic diseases have renewed their complaints about huge increases in the prices of medicine this year.

People in Sudan who suffer from chronic diseases have renewed their complaints about huge increases in the prices of medicine this year.

“The price of simple eye drops increased from SDG 120 ($18) to SDG 220 ($33),” a listener told Radio Dabanga from Khartoum. “We pay now SDG 418 ($62) for pills against high blood pressure that cost SDG 220 earlier this year.”

A number of relatives of patients complained to this station about the current situation. “It’s going from bad to worse, especially for the poor and people with a chronic disease,” one of them said.

The chairman of the Private Pharmacies Association, Dr Nasri Morgos, called the 300 per cent increase in the prices of medicines this year “unprecedented”.

He blamed the Sudanese government for the soaring medicine prices. “The government abandoned its responsibility towards the people in November last year when it cancelled the special dollar rate needed to keep the prices of imported medicines for chronic diseases affordable for the average citizen.”

Morgos said that the government previously promised to withhold 10 per cent of the hard currency acquired by exports, and reserve an estimated 350 million Dollar at the official price for the import of medicines for people suffering from chronic diseases and for children under five years of age.

“However the inability of agents and importers to provide enough hard currency has caused a scarcity of medicines and high prices,” he said.

Dollar rate

In mid-November last year, two weeks after Khartoum liberalised the fuel and electricity tariffs, 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, causing medicines prices to double or more.

More than 400 pharmacies in Khartoum closed their doors in protest, and people took to the streets in several Sudanese towns to demonstrate against the sky-rocketing prices.

In response, the federal Minister of Health announced a reduction of the prices of life-saving medicines. The prices of other medicines and basic goods however, continued to soar.

In September, the Sudanese Ministry of Health acknowledged the continuing increase in the prices of medicines in the country.

Health Ministry Undersecretary Esam Abdallah said at a workshop in Khartoum that the lifting of subsidies on medicines and the shortage of hard currency forcing importers to buy dollars from the black market are causing the instability of the medicine prices.