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Tunisia: Medicine shortage triggers campaign against 'Minister of Death'

August 2, 2018 at 12:54 am

Tunisian security forces stage a protest after Tunisian Interior Minister Lotfi Brahem was sacked in Sfax, Tunisia on 11 June 2018 [Houssem Zouari/Anadolu Agency]

Tunisia is enduring a crisis because of a shortage of medicines over a period of several months. Recently the Tunisian Society of Cardiology and Cardiovascular Surgery has declared that it won’t be able to carry on performing open-heart surgeries without the Protamine sulfate.

A great deal of Tunisians’ anger has been directed at Health Minister Emad Al-Hamami. Recently, the audience at the Carthage Theatre in Tunis forced the minister to leave when he was attending the concert of Lebanese artist Marcel Khalifa with his family. They raised banners reading “Dégage!” (leave). (This was the same term used by Tunisians during the January 2011 revolution to expel former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali).

During the concert, the audience raised banners reading “Release Medicines,” “A Failed Minister” and “Leave”. This demonstration was propelled by the medicines crisis and the disappearance of a large number of critical medications from various pharmacies in the country and the central pharmacy.

According to local media outlets, the audience described Al-Hamami as the “Minister of Death”. Activists called on the minister to resign and leave his office to someone who is more competent and caring about the health of Tunisians. They described him as “the worst minister that the ministry has ever had.”

Read: 40 migrants arrive in Tunisia after 20 days at sea

The outcry in the Medical sector

Pharmacists and doctors called for help because of the loss of critical medication and the depletion of stocks for a large number of other medicines.

Rachad Qarah, Secretary-General of the Tunisian Pharmacists’ Syndicate, told Al-Khaleej Online that they had monitored the loss of some medicines and called on the relevant authorities to find a solution. He said that “we should not spread fear and panic among patients who have bought large amount of medicines they need.”

He asserted that the central pharmacy had promised to find a solution to the crisis within the next three days at the latest. He also criticised at the same time the few quantities it is providing.

Referring to the acute shortage of medicines, Qarah stated that it was mainly due to the country’s current social crisis, which affected the National Disease Insurance Fund like the majority of public institutions.