drug supplies run short, Egyptians turn to herbal
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[January 13, 2017]
By Mohamed Zaki and Mohamed Abd El-Ghany
CAIRO (Reuters) - In an economic crisis
that has led to a shortage of medicines, Egyptians are skipping trips to
drug stores and instead turning to herbal remedies to treat every-day
In the Cairo working class neighborhood of Basateen, dozens line up
outside a decades-old herbal spice shop with pyramid-shaped stacks
of jars on display, filled with everything from honey and ginger to
Apothecaries say there has been a roughly 70-80 percent increase in
sales of their wares since a series of harsh economic reforms hit
supplies of conventional medicines and increased the cost of some
generic and even life-saving drugs.
The government said on Thursday those price rises could reach as
high as 15 percent for domestically-produced medicines and 20
percent for imports.
Store owner Samy al-Attar - whose last name is Arabic for apothecary
- says a knowledgeable apothecary can find substitutes for drugs
treating almost all non-terminal illnesses.
Just like pharmacies, the walls inside al-Attar's store are lined
with drawers and containers. But rather than drugs, they hold herbs,
each said to have its own unique healing property.
Customers crowd outside the shop window, as staff dash around the
tiny interior, choosing from a variety of textures and colors,
filling clear plastic bags with orders.
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Customers explain their symptoms and Al-Attar produces a concoction
of spices and herbs - with a more affordable price tag then at the
Local spices and herbs cost between 5 and 10 Egyptian pounds
($0.27-0.54) per kilogram.
($1 = 18.5000 Egyptian pounds)
(Writing by Seham Eloraby; Editing by Ahmed Aboulenein and Mark
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