Amid the economic crisis and severe fuel shortage, Sri Lankans are finding it difficult to procure medicines and medical equipment.
The Government Medical Officers' Association (GMOA) said that the price of medicine and medical equipment has increased three to four times in the local market which has made it difficult for citizens to procure them, the Daily Mirror newspaper reported.
Dr. Prasad Kolabage, a member of the GMOA Media Committee, stated that certain medicinal drugs are not available in the market and as a result, people are trying to go to hospitals to get their medicines since they cannot afford their cost.
"Most of the people who used to purchase medicines from private pharmacies are returning to government hospitals. They are also facing transport difficulties coming to hospitals, it is unfortunate to say that hospitals giving medicines have been limited. Previously, hospitals used to issue medicines that were sufficient for patients for a month, but now it has been limited to two weeks. The medicines used to be issued for two weeks, but is now limited to a week. Most of the doctors are forced to prescribe medicines to buy from pharmacies," Kolabage said.
Several medicines and medical importers have stopped importing due to the financial crisis caused by the dollar crunch along with transportation and order placing issues, the local media reported.
Some importers have stopped importing medicines completely contributing to the medical scarcity in the country.
Transportation has become a major issue in the distribution of medicine and medicinal supplies. The doctors have adopted a limit in issuing medicines due to limited medical supplies in other provinces.
Notably, Sri Lanka has been facing the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, leading to an acute shortage of essential items like food, medicine, cooking gas, and fuel across the island nation.
The nearly-bankrupt country, with an acute foreign currency crisis that resulted in foreign debt default, had announced in April that it is suspending nearly USD 7 billion foreign debt repayment due for this year out of about USD 25 billion due through 2026. Sri Lanka's total foreign debt.
The economic crisis has particularly impacted food security, agriculture, livelihoods, and access to health services.
Food production in the last harvest season was 40 - 50 per cent lower than last year, and the current agricultural season is at risk, with seeds, fertilizers, fuel, and credit shortages.
Sri Lanka is one of the few nations named by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which is expected to go without food due to the global food shortage expected this year.