President López Obrador said Thursday that a state company will be created to distribute medications, medical supplies and vaccines across Mexico.
“Tomorrow we’ll speak more about a distributor of the Mexican state, a distributor of medicines, equipment and vaccines … to all the towns of Mexico just like [other] goods are distributed,” he told reporters at his regular news conference.
López Obrador said that federal Civil Protection Chief David León, “one of the government’s best public servants,” will be the director of the state-run distribution company.
“It’s unacceptable that bottled soft drinks and chips are distributed in the entire national territory but medicines don’t reach the towns,” he said.
The new distributor, the president added, will have enough resources to ensure that medicines and medical supplies get to the most far-flung and isolated parts of the country.
“It will have its budget, it will be a well-set-up company so that there’s no lack of medicine even in the most remote town in the sierra,” López Obrador said.
“Free medicine and medical care have to reach the most distant areas. We have about 50 billion pesos [US $2.3 billion] available for public health this year and next; guaranteeing people’s health is a priority.”
The president said the company will have its own trucks and that his wish is to have them emblazoned with the words “medicine, vaccines and medical equipment.”
“We must all respect these trucks,” he added. “[They’ll be] like the Red Cross ambulances or hospital ambulances that mustn’t be stopped, that must be respected because they’ll have medicine to cure the people.”
López Obrador also said he was pleased that federal lawmakers had passed a law that allows the government to make direct purchases of medicines and medical supplies abroad.
“I’m delighted that the purchase of medicine and vaccines abroad was approved in the Congress. This means breaking the monopoly … of companies that had control in Mexico, that sold poor quality medicines at elevated prices and had frequent problems with shortages,” he said.
“Tomorrow we’re going to sign an agreement with the UN to purchase medicines, vaccines [and] equipment” of the highest quality at the best prices, López Obrador said.
As a result, it appears that state-owned trucks filled with foreign pharmaceuticals may soon be plying the dusty roads of the Sierra Tarahumara in Chihuahua and pulling up in hard-to-reach, impoverished towns in states such as Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero.
The federal government first announced last year that it intended to take over responsibility for the distribution of medications.
The head of a logistics firm said at the time that he believed the government didn’t have the logistical know-how to ensure that medications reach their intended destinations in a timely fashion.
“Specialized personnel with knowledge of technological advances is required in order to establish highly efficient distribution chains,” José Ambe said.
He also said the government would end up paying more to distribute medications itself, asserting that “the private sector dedicated to the distribution of medicines absorbs all operational costs, including the modernization of infrastructure.”
Source: Reforma (sp)