Sudan’s patients in need of urgent medical care are feeling the effects of ongoing political unrest as well as high-level inflation as drug prices soar.
The combination of two problems has seen prices for essential medicines have risen unchecked while ordinary people struggle to make purchases with the weakening Sudanese pound, in a country where civilians are already bearing the burden of high food and fuel costs.
Some have had to decide what is easier to handle: eat and die of disease, or get medicine and starve.
This week pharmaceutical sellers justified price hikes by citing higher import bills from a weak Sudanese pound. They say they are shifting the additional costs onto consumers.
Sudan, which had a relatively strong local pharmaceutical industry for basic drugs, also said raw materials have become expensive, leading to a rise in drug prices by 30 percent.
Nasr Morgos, leader of the Khartoum Pharmacists’ Union, said local companies that make the drugs import most of the raw materials from abroad.
” The drug is available, but it is not accessible to everyone,” Nasr told The EastAfrican on Monday.
“Unfortunately, the common man faces a dilemma, for example, when You find someone who cannot buy any of the four medications that are prescribed. I think this creates a very big problem because the treatment is incomplete [and] the disease is undertreated.”
Underdosing, Dr explained, will lead to future problems, including the inability of the prescription to to treat the same illness if the person gets it again.
“As pharmacists, we are very sensitive to the situation of our employees. But we can’t help them by giving them one, two or more drugs and leaving the rest out.
“Besides, even if I were to help a patient by cutting my profit and giving the drugs on the price of importation, most will still not be able to get the full medicine,” added Dr. Morgos added.
Since the October 25 coup last year that toppled an interim government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, Sudan’s problems have been compounded by the military, who have accused it of internal strife. Since then, the country has not been able to create a new interim administration as civilian groups refuse to cooperate with the military to keep them out of government.