The Sri Lanka Doctors Association said Sunday that hospitals across the country no longer have access to imported medical equipment and life-saving medicines.
Sri Lankan doctors warned on Sunday they were almost running out of life-saving medicines, stressing that the economic crisis is likely to claim more lives on the island than the coronavirus pandemic.
Weeks of power outages and severe shortages of food, fuel and medicines have left many in dire straits as Sri Lanka experiences its worst recession since independence in 1948. The Medical Association of Sri Lanka (SLMA) said on Sunday that the country’s hospitals no longer had access to imported medical equipment and life-saving medicines.
Several facilities have already suspended routine operations for the past month due to running out of anesthetics, and the SLMA has stressed that even emergency response may not be possible very soon. “We have to make very difficult decisions. We have to decide who gets treatment and who doesn’t,” the association lamented after releasing a letter to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa a few days earlier to warn him of the situation. “If the supply is not restored in the coming days, the victims will be many more than those of the pandemic,” underlined the medical organization.
Growing popular anger at the economic crisis has led to large demonstrations since Saturday demanding the resignation of President Rajapaksa. Thousands of people braved the heavy rain on Sunday for the second day in a row in front of the President’s office in the capital Colombo. On Saturday, business leaders joined calls for his resignation, saying chronic fuel shortages have drained cash from their businesses.
The government is seeking an IMF (International Monetary Fund) bailout to pull Sri Lanka out of the crisis as food prices have skyrocketed and the local currency has lost a third of its value over the past month. The pandemic has torpedoed vital tourism revenues and remittances into the country from expatriate workers. Economists say the crisis has also been exacerbated by government mismanagement, years of accumulated borrowing and misguided tax cuts.