Sudan's economy stalls post-coup

STORY: Sudan is once again lurching towards an economic collapse, following a coup in October, with exports plummeting more than 85% in January according to central bank data.

Cut off from billions in foreign assistance, the military-led government is raising prices for everything from cooking gas to healthcare.

Last month - in a move that was subsequently suspended - the cost of admission to healthcare facilities went from 250 Sudanese pounds, or around half a U.S. dollar, to 4,200 overnight.

That's according to Dr Ali Shakir, head of one of the country's largest public hospitals.

"We were surprised that they were asking us for money that we need from citizens' pockets, whom we know for sure that they have nothing. The patient cannot even afford 250 Sudanese pounds, which is about 50 cents, for the patient's file fee, based on the old prices, we waive this for them. It was raised to 4,200 pounds. Patients say they cannot afford this."

Sudan's ruling council said in a statement that prices would be reviewed and that the government did not consider healthcare a revenue earner.

But the country faces a precarious economic picture.

Inflation has eased slightly, but remains at one of the highest rates worldwide, at 260% in January.

Sudan's long-running economic crisis - a legacy of decades of war, isolation, and sanctions - had shown signs of abating before the coup.

But now the population faces renewed violence and rising levels of hunger.

Following the devaluation of Sudan's currency a year ago, the exchange rate had stabilized at about 450 pounds to the dollar.

But in recent weeks the black market has resurfaced and the pound was changing hands at 530 against the dollar on Wednesday, compared with an official rate of 443.50.