By: Aisha Braima
KHARTOUM (Sudanow.info.sd)- President Omar Bashir on Friday relieved the head of the Sudan National Medicines and Poisons Board, accused of hastily increasing prices of medicines and spurring a wide outcry among Sudanese both locally and abroad.
The presidential decree relieved the Board Chairman, Mohamed Al-Hassan Imam Al-Akad, following an unprecedented increase in the prices of drugs.
The official news agency said the man Al-Akad, was relieved from his post because of the “hasty decision he took” on setting new prices for medicines.
Only hours after the government announced liberalization of the rate of exchange of the pound against the US dollars last week, the Board, headed by Al Akad, announced new prices for medicines, setting a wide public reaction and a threat of work stoppage by pharmacists.
“This is in reaction to the wide internal and external reactions that followed the hasty declaration of the new prices as announced by the board “the Sudanese Minister for Health, Bahar Idris Abou Ghardah, told a press briefing at his office in Khartoum.
The minister has however denied that the decision was a preemptive move to abort threats of civic disobediences called for by opposition.
The minister also announced that prices of such essential and basic drugs as those of diabetics, hypertension, asthma, and other chronic diseases would be brought back to their prices prior to the decision.
Last week pharmacies in the Sudanese capital Khartoum staged a partial strike in protest of increases by more than 200% of the prices of medicines as a result of a sharp drop in the rate of the Sudanese pound and lifting government subsidies. Setting prices for medicines to be sold in retails in pharmacies is one of the mandates of the Board. The board also could bar import of or use of any medicines, pull out of shelves any medicine or drugs in the pharmacies.
The exchange rate has now been raised up from 6.5 to over 18 pounds a US dollar.
Some 300 out of 3000 pharmacies in the capital have decided to close down for eight hours, from 09:00 am to 17:00 pm each day protesting the lift of the subsides and hikes in the prices of the medicines.
The governmental National Pharmaceutical Board has raised in a statement the medicines tariff by more than 200%, increasing, for instance the oprazole syrup from 30 to 71 Sudanese pounds and symbcort from 188 to 400 pounds.
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