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50% of Sudanese without access to basic medicine: parliament

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February 24, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s parliamantary subcommittee on health has revealed that 50% of the population do not have access to basic drugs, with 79% of people having to pay out of their own pockets to buy medicine due to difficulties facing drug imports.

Sudan’s General Authority for Medical Supplies disclosed that Arab and international banks refuse to receive funds from the country, sharply curtailing drug imports.

The head of the governmental body, Jamal Khalafalla, told the parliament subcommittee on health that efforts are underway to address the issue using a workaround by transferring money via Sudanese embassies abroad.

Subcommittee chairman Abdul-Aziz Itnain underscored that rising drug prices is one of the main drivers of poverty, pledging to take action to address the lack of funds needed to import it.

However, the gecretary-general of the Consumer Protection Association of Sudan, Yasser Mirghani, argued in statements to Dubai-based al-Arabiya TV that funds are available, but that some commercial banks had transferred money to non-pharmaceutical companies.

Mirghani claimed that he was in possession of a list of the companies responsible, calling on the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) to take measures to recover the funds by next April or he would make the list public.

Last November, Sudan’s Drug Importers Chamber (DIC) revealed that 31 foreign pharmaceutical companies had refused to deal with Sudan until outstanding credits amounting to $90 million are repaid, accusing the CBoS of failing to provide the necessary foreign exchange for drug importation.

Following South Sudan’s independence in mid-2011, Khartoum lost access to more than three-quarters of its oil reserves that were the main driver of an economic boom that lasted for much of the past decade.

Since then the government has struggled with a shortage of hard currency and revenue as the pound sank in value on the widely used black market and inflation soared.

(ST)

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