Thursday, December 7, 2023

‘You’re not alone:’ hospital staff rally in support of director linked to corruption

Doctors and nurses at a children’s hospital in Mexico City have rallied in support of their boss after President López Obrador linked him to corruption in the procurement of cancer medication.

Federico Gómez Children’s Hospital director Jaime Nieto Zermeño is under investigation in connection with a shortage of drugs over the last year.

The president announced Thursday that the Secretariat of Public Administration (SFP) would investigate Nieto, whom he accused of “causing chaos” because he and other officials have lost control over purchasing medications.

In a video on social media, hospital staff applauded Nieto and chanted, “You’re not alone!” Before a full auditorium, Nieto raised a hand and bowed in a show of gratitude.

“[Nieto] is a pediatrician with international prestige and is an honorable person. It’s not right to denigrate him,” said one supporter in a tweet.

Nieto responded to the president’s announcement by saying that he is open to the investigation.

“I believe that the president has every right to investigate . . . We are totally open to the investigation. I don’t have a contract with anyone, the hospital has a contract with distributors,” he said.

Nieto said it was the Secretariat of Health that had authorized extending the hospital’s contract with Safe pharmaceutical labs, a subsidiary of PiSA, the pharmaceutical company that failed to deliver methotrexate, vincristine and other life-saving drugs at various times over the last year.

He explained that the contracts with Safe had ended on December 31 but the hospital was not involved in the decision to extend the contract.

“I didn’t make the decision. I carry out orders and form part of the institutional health team to provide service.”

He also assured the parents of cancer victims that the hospital now has all the chemotherapy drugs it needs to treat their children and he does not foresee a shortage in the near future.

“We’ve been in contact with parents and I tell them that we’re in the same boat and we’re rowing in the same direction . . . We will fight for the health of the children,” he said.

López Obrador said on Friday that the government will carry out the investigation despite Nieto’s support and claim of innocence.

Nieto had warned lawmakers and federal health officials in September of an imminent shortage.

Source: El Universal (sp)

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