Egypt is facing a medical crisis in the wake of a drop in the value of its pound. Pharmacies across the country are running out of necessary medications, Reuters reported Wednesday. Supplies of life-saving cancer drugs are dwindling, along with insulin, contraceptives, tetanus shots and other medications.
Egypt floated its currency Nov. 3, allowing its pound to halve in value. The country has been in turmoil since the ousting of former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011. The currency floatation was intended to help Egypt's government secure a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to help investment and growth.
The currency's lower value combined with government-set price caps on drugs have forced pharmacies to cut supplies or stop importing expensive medicines and ingredients.
"We aren't a charity," Said Ibrahim, factory manager at EIPICO, one of Egypt's largest pharmaceutical corporations, told Reuters. "We have expenses and production costs and if a company isn't making a profit it will have to halt production." About 1,600 drugs are in short supply and 35 have no alternatives, the company's vice president told Reuters.
Egypt has experienced a severe shortage of morphine since before the currency floatation, according to a recent report by the World Health Organization. The country has imported the drug for the past 20 years from only one supplier. In late 2014, it became unavailable for an unknown reason. The country now has no oral morphine to aid its residents with cancer.
Pharmaceutical companies have been meeting frequently to find solutions the shortage, Daily News Egypt reported. The government's Health Ministry, however, said the problem is due to panicking Egyptians hoarding medicine and not the fault of the currency value drop.
"It's an orchestrated crisis," Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Mogahed told the Egyptian television network Mehwar. "The decision to float the pound was taken ... and two hours later people began saying we have a crisis and we don't have meds."