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Sri Lankan doctors protest drug shortages as crisis rages

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Sri Lankan doctors protest drug shortages as crisis rages.

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 it’s not just medicines but also chemicals used in tests that are running out.

“Patients who are undergoing chemotherapy, we have to monitor them carefully. We have to monitor these investigations on a daily basis,” Samararathna said.

“So if we can’t do it, we can’t decide which way to go. We can’t decide on proper management. Sometimes our chemotherapy drugs are causing serious side effects, so the only way we have to find out is by doing these research”.

He said anticancer drugs like Filgrastim and Cytarabine, as well as some antibiotics, were in short supply.

Rajapaksa’s various moves, including securing financial support from India and China, have failed to end the shortage or spontaneous street protests across the country.

His finance minister resigned on Tuesday, a day after his appointment and ahead of crucial talks scheduled with the International Monetary Fund this month for a loan program.

He dissolved his cabinet on Monday and sought to form a unity government, a proposal rejected by the ruling and opposition parties.

There is such a shortage of funds that the country is temporarily closing some of its embassies.

Ruwanpathiranage Dharmawardena, a 65-year-old taxi driver, said people were restless and tired of suffering.

“They have reached the end of their patience,” he said. “You can’t tell how people will behave, what decision they will make.”

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