#ReturnSubsidiesForMedicines trends as the Sudanese struggle to afford basic drugs
A 300 percent price hike in Sudan has caused a social media storm (Wikimedia Commons)
There has been a massive outpouring of support on Twitter, from throughout the Arab world, after an enormous increase in medicine prices in Sudan.
Following the suspension of government subsidies on drugs in the country, a committee has set new extortionate prices on medicines. These represent a 300 percent increase, according to local press and social media users. This follows a move by the central bank to stop providing foreign currency for the import of medicines.The new prices will be officially implemented in January, however many in Sudan have suggested that chemist shops have begun implementing them now.
On Saturday, pharmacies across the capital Khartoum were closed as pharmacists went on strike against the rise in prices.
However, a huge social media campaign has been launched, with users encouraging the spread of the Arabic hashtag #ReturnSubsidiesForMedicines into multiple languages.
Some used the hashtag to express demands for change:
المواطن لم يطالب بأن يكون الدواء مجاني أو شبه مجاني مثل بقية الدول ، المواطن يطالب بالقليل فقط وهو إرجاع السعر القديم#اعيدوا_الدعم_للادويه— 7sn (@hassan0faisal) November 21, 2016
Citizens do not demand that drugs be free or nearly free like other countries, they are demanding only the return to the old price
#اعيدوا_الدعم_للادويه I am from sudan, and in my county... we can't afford the most basic Antibiotic nor analgesics nor Asthma medication— Mohamed I. Abdelhai (@MoIsAbdelhai) November 20, 2016
People in Sudan are suffering because medication prices got higher by 300% preventing access to a basic right. #اعيدوا_الدعم_للادويه— Ahmed Hassan (@AhmedHasn89) November 21, 2016
Others simply tweeted messages of support:
Keep it up Sudanese they have to be strong
#اعيدوا_الدعم_للادويه— tsneem (@tsneem23) November 21, 2016
لا تستهين بدورك وادعم القضيه بالمشاركه :— طلال 92 (@_Talal1) November 21, 2016
لا احد يقول مالنا علاقه، الشعب السوداني عزيز على قلوبنا واللي يمسّهم يمسّنا
Do not underestimate your role and I support the cause with your participation: No one can say it’s nothing to do with them, the Sudanese people are dear to our hearts, and whatever affects them touches us.
Particular encouragement came from Saudi Arabia, with which Sudan has developed much closer relations this year. This follows its severing of ties with Iran, and its entrance into the Saudi-led coalition fighting Houthi rebels in Yemen:
#اعيدوا_الدعم_للادويه— سحر خالد (@sahar_khaled_) November 21, 2016
انا سعودية ويسعدني أن اقف مع السودان
لأجل قضية إنسانية كباقي القضايا لكل المسلمين
اللهم كن عوناً لهم واحفظهم
I am Saudi, and I am pleased to stand with Sudan for a humanitarian issue, as with all issues for all Muslims. O God, be of help to them and preserve them.
As well as Qatar:
When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty #اعيدوا_الدعم_للادويه— MoHaMeD (@Mohamed19729947) November 21, 2016
And the UAE
Nearly half of the Sudanese population live in poverty, and their is huge inequality between the country’s richest and its poorest. The suffering caused by such a rise in prices on essential treatments, then, would be catastropic, should it continue.