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70% of Lebanese Unable to Buy Medicine

70% of Lebanese Unable to Buy Medicine

Saturday, 20 November, 2021 - 10:45
Sample of medicine produced in Lebanon - Asharq Al-Awsat

Head of Lebanon’s parliamentary health committee Asem Araji confirmed that 70% of Lebanese people could not buy medicine after lifting subsidies and the sharp increase in prices.

The hike in prices prompted angry activists to protest in front of the Ministry of Health on Thursday.

Lebanese authorities had decided to lift the subsidy for chronic diseases medicines partially.

The move came in light of a high exchange rate of the dollar on the black market coupled with the depletion of hard currency reserves at the Central Bank of Lebanon, which used to provide dollars to import these medicines.

“The subsidy was set according to certain conditions, but due to the collapse of the Lebanese pound, prices rose frighteningly,” said Araji after a meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

“70% of the Lebanese are unable to buy medications, which is why we asked for a meeting with Mikati and told him that this issue was not acceptable, and we discussed a number of solutions,” revealed Araji.

“We proposed increasing the funds allocated to medications in dollars, and this will be discussed in a meeting between Mikati, the Health Minister, and the Central Bank Governor,” he added.

“We proposed that pharmaceutical companies be paid in Lebanese pounds according to Sayrafa platform, thus saving 20 % of the medication price, and starting today, generic drugs must be purchased,” said Araji.

Following the decline in the Central Bank’s reserves of hard currency, the subsidy for medicines was gradually lifted, and the partial assistance was recently lifted for medication for chronic diseases.

“We continued to support medicines for chronic diseases and cancerous diseases for a period of two months, but they were lost from the market,” explained Mikati on his part.

‘Either people stored them in homes, or they were smuggled,” he added.

“Therefore, we will remain committed to the issue so that each patient takes their right by limiting the provision of the required medicine or its equivalent according to a doctor’s opinion,” said Mikati.

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