Scarcity of foreign exchange resources in Sudan has affected the import of drugs and medical supplies and cut the operating capacity of the country's pharmaceutical industry by half, the Sudanese government revealed on Tuesday.
Pharmacies in the capital Khartoum have been suffering severe shortages of life-saving medicines since early March.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan warned that the economic crisis continues to impact the country’s import of medicines and medical supplies.
“While the imports of medicine in 2019 improved slightly compared to 2018, the levels were 20 percent below of 2017,” according to the latest update from the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS).
This has decreased the amount of available medicines in both government and private sectors compared to previous years, the Federal Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO) reported.
The 4th quarter of 2019 by CBoS indicates that Sudan imported US$367 million worth of medicine in 2019., according to the Foreign Trade Statistical Digest. While this is an increase of about $47 million (15 percent) compared to 2018, it is $91 million (20 percent) lower compared to 2017, it added.
For its part, the Ministry of Industry and Trade said it was preparing a plan to develop the country's pharmaceutical industry to achieve self-sufficiency.
Head of the pharmaceutical department at the Ministry of Industry Dr. Hanadi Ata al-Fadil confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that there is a huge gap in covering the local consumption of drugs.
She pointed out that Sudan has 27 drug manufacturing plants, only 19 of which operate at half of their capacity and cover about 45 percent of the country's needs.
The local pharmaceutical industry produces enough antibiotics, blood pressure and diabetes drugs only, while life-saving medicines are imported, she added.