Crisis-hit Sri Lanka faces food and medicine shortages

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In Sri Lanka, food shortages are on the rise and food prices are soaring. They jumped 30% in March, after 17% in February. The country, hit by an unprecedented economic crisis, is struggling to import basic necessities, but also to produce them. And the country is also running out of life-saving drugs.

With our correspondent in Colombo, Como Bastin

In a street in the suburbs of Colombo, this resident is queuing to obtain a commodity that has become precious: “ We Sri Lankans now lack many things. The government no longer provides powdered milk, even when you wait a long time like here. The European Union should send us some, we would be grateful! »

Sri Lanka produces little milk and therefore imports powdered milk. And as the country is sorely lacking in foreign currency, its price per kilo has today exploded, like that of many foodstuffs. Behind this food price inflation, there is also a poorly negotiated transition to organic farming.

The collapse of agriculture and a significant risk of famine

Near the town of Galle, Premadasa Idamalgoda who is a farmer, expresses his annoyance: The government told us that we had to do without chemical fertilizers. But he does not provide us with organic training or natural fertilizers. My tea or ginger shots are in terrible shape. I produce four times less than before! »

That’s the whole paradox. Designed to limit costly imports of chemical fertilizers, this hasty policy in turn caused a collapse in agriculture and thus an even more costly rise in food imports.

A few days ago, the Speaker of the Sri Lankan Parliament predicted the risk of famine if the island’s food security was not assured.

A drug shortage more dangerous than the pandemic

Sri Lankan doctors warned on Sunday April 10 that they were almost out of life-saving drugs, stressing that the economic crisis was likely to claim more victims on the island than the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) has explained that hospitals in the country no longer have access to imported medical equipment and life-saving drugs. Several facilities have already suspended routine operations since last month because they ran out of anaesthetics, and SLMA has stressed that even emergency procedures may not be possible very soon.

We have to make very difficult choices. We must decide who will be cured and who will not “, lamented the association, after having made public a letter sent to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa a few days earlier to warn him of the situation. ” If supplies are not restored in the coming days, the victims will be many more than those of the pandemic “, underlined the organization of doctors.

Worst recession since independence

Weeks of power cuts, severe food and fuel shortages have plunged much of the population into misery as Sri Lanka faces its worst recession since independence in 1948. Growing public anger over the economic crisis has given rise since Saturday to major demonstrations calling for the resignation of President Rajapaksa.

Thousands of people braved heavy rain outside the president’s office in the capital Colombo on Sunday, April 10, for the second day in a row.

► To read also: Sri Lanka: monster demonstration in Colombo against the power in place

(And with AFP)

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