Lebanon faces 'disastrous' medicine shortages

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People protest in Beirut, Lebanon. Photo: March 2021Image source, Reuters
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Many Lebanese accuse their country's political elite of corruption, mismanagement and negligence

An association representing Lebanese firms that import medicines has warned of potentially disastrous shortages, as the country's economic crisis deepens.

It says "imports have almost completely ground to a halt" in the past month.

Lebanon has suffered a severe economic crisis over the past 18 months. A lack of foreign currency has been making it hard to pay foreign suppliers.

Some Lebanese healthcare companies have already run out of medicines needed to treat cancer and heart disease.

The association said that if nothing was done, the situation would be catastrophic by the end of the month.

It urged Lebanon's central bank to release dollars to pay for drugs. The group said foreign suppliers were owed more than $600m (£434m) in accumulated dues since December.

The economic crisis has left half the population living in poverty and prompted mass protests demanding the removal of a political elite accused of corruption, mismanagement and negligence.

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Carine Torbey goes on a helicopter sightseeing flight offered by the cash-strapped Lebanese army