Sri Lankan doctors said they will hold a street protest in the commercial capital Colombo on Wednesday, as hospitals run out of essential drugs because of the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa revoked a state of emergency late on Tuesday after dozens of lawmakers walked out of the ruling coalition, leaving his government in a minority in parliament as it struggles to quell protests against the crisis.
People have been suffering from shortages of fuel, power, food and other items for weeks, and doctors say the entire health system could now collapse.
Education minister and leader of the house, Dinesh Gunawardena said, “We accept there is a massive financial crisis in this country, and we are now attempting to work to find solutions.
“There are queues for everything, for gas, for fuel and kerosene. We understand the hardships of the people, but we have to use democratic means to restore calm.”
The Government Medical Officers’ Association, which represents over 16,000 doctors nationwide, said medics from across Colombo would gather at the National Hospital of Sri Lanka and protest against the serious shortage of drugs.
Malaka Samararathna, who works at the state-run Apeksha Hospital which treats tens of thousands of cancer patients from across the country every year, said not only drugs but even chemicals used in testing are running short.
“The patients who are on chemotherapy, we have to monitor them carefully. Daily we have to monitor these investigations.
“So, if we can’t do it, we can’t decide the way forward. We can’t decide on the proper management. Sometimes our chemotherapy drugs are causing severe side effects, so the only way we have to find it is by doing these investigations.”