President López Obrador stressed on Friday that there should be no shortage of medications and that if there is, they should be brought in by plane if necessary.
“There is no reason to lack medications. If there aren’t medications, then bring them by plane, this is allowed. For this, yes, but not for going shopping or, like helicopters, for going golfing. But if it’s for going to the United States, to India or wherever to buy medicine, it can be done and in three or four days you’ve got them, if it’s for children’s or others’ lives,” he told reporters at this morning press conference.
(The reference to helicopters is probably with regard to an Institutional Revolutionary Party senator who flew in an armed forces helicopter to a meeting two years ago and later played golf. Another helicopter ride cost a senior official his job. The head of the National Water Commission used an official helicopter to fly himself and his family to the Mexico City airport while en route to a foreign vacation in 2015. David Korenfeld was forced to resign as a result.)
The president’s comments came after the Secretariat of Health faced a shortage of the cancer medicine Metotrexato in the Federico Gómez Children’s Hospital and other health facilities.
However, the situation was remedied on Tuesday, according to Social Security Institute (IMSS) director Zoé Robledo.
López Obrador blamed the problem on “dissident” suppliers.
“There used to be much corruption [in the purchase]. Despite the fact that they were paid 90 billion pesos for medicines and medical supplies, there weren’t medications in the health centers and hospitals. So they are upset, they are rebellious, and it’s a network, like everything, of interests, very strong and very powerful,” he said.
However, the supplier of the cancer drug said a shipment was delayed due to administrative issues with the government regulator.
The shortage of the chemotherapy drug triggered a protest earlier this week by parents of cancer victims, but their protest drew remarks from the health secretary that further angered them.
Jorge Alcocer said on Tuesday there was “a sufficient quantity” of the cancer drug Metrotrexato and that there was no “medical urgency.”
But the Children’s Hospital said there was indeed a shortage of the drug, and had been for 15 days. The head of the oncology department said about 40% of the hospital’s cancer patients were being treated with Metrotrexato.
The hospital administration said the shortage was due to a shipment of the medication not meeting certain federal standards.
The health secretary met with protesting parents on Thursday and apologized for his remarks.