From bad to worse: Lebanon lifts more medicine subsidies

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More government subsidies on medicines were lifted Tuesday in Lebanon, making an already dire situation worse for local residents.

The country has seen a challenging economic and financial situation make importing medicines difficult. The shortage of US dollars in the local market has made purchasing medicine from abroad more expensive and has led to higher than usual prices.

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Last week, Lebanon’s Health Minister Firass Abiad said that subsidies on drugs used for cholesterol, blood pressure, and other diseases would be reduced.

Doctors and pharmacists have continued to warn against the shortage of life-saving medications.

But the Health Ministry did say last week that it was working with the country’s central bank to find a solution to the inability to import needed medications.

It is believed that the state spends more than $20 million per month now on medical subsidies.

But the freefall of the Lebanese pound, which was pegged to the dollar at a rate of 1507.5 since 1997, has severely impaired Lebanon’s economy that is heavily dependent on imports.

The World Bank and IMF, and the international community have voiced willingness to help Lebanon. However, this aid is contingent upon implementing anti-corruption reforms and curbing public spending.

Officials and lawmakers have so far failed to heed any calls from the international community and Lebanese protesters.

Read more: Lebanon’s health minister raids medicines warehouse stockpiling subsidized imports

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