Sunday, May 19, 2024

‘No more excuses:’ AMLO upbraids ministers for medications shortages

As long-running protests against medications shortages continue, President López Obrador directed two senior members of his government to resolve the problem “without excuses.”

Speaking at an event in Colima on Wednesday, the president urged Health Minister Jorge Alcocer and the director of the National Institute of Health for Well-Being (Insabi), Juan Ferrer, to put an end to the shortages that have plagued his government and triggered countless protests by parents of children with cancer, including one at the Mexico City airport on Tuesday.

“I don’t want to hear that medications are lacking and I don’t want excuses of any kind. We can’t sleep soundly if there are no medications to treat sick people,” López Obrador said.

“We won’t relax while there isn’t a sufficient supply of medications, … free medications, all of them, even those that are hardest to get,” he said.

López Obrador said his government made it possible for health authorities to source medications from anywhere in the world and therefore “there’s now no excuse” for shortages.

“In addition, the corruption that existed in which 10 distributors monopolized the government’s entire medications purchase is no longer permitted,” he said.

The president’s remarks came a day after parents of children with cancer blocked vehicular access to Terminal 1 of the Mexico City airport to pressure the federal government to resolve the medications shortages problem. The parents said the government has failed to supply chemotherapy drugs to public hospitals in several states, forcing them to seek alternative sources for the medicines their children need and pay for them out of their own pockets.

“We’re here because the government hasn’t fulfilled its job; we lack medications and our children need them. There are also adults that can’t undertake treatment,” said Mario Hernández, a spokesman for the protesting parents.

He said parents have had 21 meetings with Health Ministry and Insabi officials but the shortages problem still hasn’t been solved. The parents said they intend to protest at the Mexico City airport every Tuesday while the problem remains.

Protests against shortages began soon after López Obrador took office and have been held regularly since. One group of parents of children with cancer filed a criminal complaint in July against Deputy Health Minister Hugo López-Gatell for genocide, discrimination and negligence in relation to the long-running shortages.

In a column published by the newspaper El Universal the same month, journalist Carlos Loret de Mola claimed that 1,600 children have died as a result of the shortages.

“The shortage of cancer medications has killed 1,600 children who wouldn’t have died if they had their medicines. Only one person is responsible for the shortage: the president of Mexico, Andrés Manuel López Obrador,” he wrote.

In the past the president has denied that there have been shortages, dismissing the protests as politically driven.

With reports from Milenio

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