November 18, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Two hundred private pharmacies in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum have decided to go on partial strike and close their doors on Saturday to protest against recent foreign exchange policy by the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) that has led to a sharp rise in drug price.
Earlier this month, CBoS announced it will no longer provide US dollar for drug importation at rate of 7,5 Sudanese pounds (SDG) forcing pharmaceutical companies to buy the dollar from the black market at 17,5 pounds. As a result, drug prices rose by 100 to 150 percent.
Chairman of the Sudanese Pharmacists Union (SPU) Salah al-Din Ibrahim told Sudan Tribune on Friday that drug price has doubled and even tripled due to the CBoS’s decision, saying price of some essential medicines saw a 100 to 150 percent rise.
He acknowledged that dozens of pharmacies in Khartoum will close on Saturday in protest against the lift of drug subsidy, describing the strike as a means to draw attention to the adverse impact of the CBoS’s decision.
In a statement seen by the Sudan Tribune Friday, the preliminary committee of the pharmacies owners has called for a partial closure of pharmacies from 9 am to 5 pm on Saturday to protest the CBoS’s policy, demanding the government to go back on this “disastrous decision”.
It pointed that about 200 pharmacies in Khartoum will participate in the strike; saying pharmacies owners don’t want the residents to hold them responsible for the price hikes.
The statement further demanded the SPU to take a firm stance toward what it described as “national health crisis”.
Following the CBoS’s decision regarding drug importation, the government lifted fuel subsidies and increased electricity price in a bid to stop the surge in inflation and control the fall of Sudanese pound in the black market.
The government move stirred up small-scale protests in several towns across Sudan, including the capital Khartoum, Atbara, Wad Madani and Nyala.
Sudan’s economy was hit hard since the southern part of the country declared independence in July 2011, taking with it about 75% of the country’s oil output.
Earlier in November, CBoS introduced an incentive policy, increasing the exchange rate in commercial banks by 131%. As a result, the U.S. dollar exchange rate went up in banks to 15.8 SDG from the official rate of 6.5 SDG.
On Tuesday, the pound hit another historic low against the U.S. dollar on the black market as the dollar exchange rate went up to 17.8 SDG from 17.6 SGD last week.
It is noteworthy that the East African nation imports most of its food and medicines.