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Sri Lanka's economic crisis may lead to more deaths than Covid-19, warn doctors

Updated on Apr 10, 2022 09:06 PM IST
Several facilities have suspended routine surgeries since last month because they were dangerously low on anaesthetics, but the SLMA said even emergency procedures may not be possible very soon.
A demonstrator holds Sri Lanka's national flag as he takes part in a protest against the economic crisis in Colombo. (AFP)
By | Written by Aniruddha Dhar, New Delhi

Sri Lanka's worst economic crisis could lead to far more deaths than the Covid-19 pandemic, doctors warned on Sunday as they are nearly out of life-saving medicines. The island nation is struggling with power blackouts and severe shortages of food, fuel and pharmaceuticals.

The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) said all hospitals in the country no longer had access to imported medical tools and vital drugs, according to news agency AFP.

Several facilities have already suspended routine surgeries since last month because they were dangerously low on anaesthetics, but the SLMA said that even emergency procedures may not be possible very soon.

"We are made to make very difficult choices. We have to decide who gets treatment and who will not," AFP quoted the group as saying after it released a letter the group had sent President Gotabaya Rajapaksa days earlier to warn him of the situation.

"If supplies are not restored within days, the casualties will be far worse than from the pandemic," it said.

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Mounting public anger over the crisis has seen large protests calling for Rajapaksa's resignation. Thousands of people braved heavy rains to keep up a demonstration outside the leader's seafront office in the capital Colombo for a second day.

Rajapaksa, meanwhile, has invited the 11-party coalition allies comprising 42 independent MPs for a discussion on the country's worst economic crisis, according to a media report.

During the meeting, which was scheduled to take place on Sunday evening, the MPs would also request the president to remove his elder brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, and appoint a new cabinet to address the unprecedented crisis faced by the island nation.

Last week the entire Sri Lankan cabinet resigned apart from Mahinda at a time when the country was facing its worst economic crisis since gaining independence from the UK in 1948.

During the meeting, the MPs will also hand out a list of proposals to President Rajapaksa to bail out Sri Lanka from the current economic and political crisis, the Colombo Page news portal reported.

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