Vice President Alfredo Borrero announced Monday that the government will begin closing pharmacies in Social Security (IESS) and public hospitals and that private and municipal pharmacies will take over medicine distribution for hospital clients.
“We are beginning the process of removing the pharmacies from public hospitals, shifting medication fulfillment to private pharmacies and those operated by local governments,” Borrero said Monday. “It has become clear that the procurement process for medicine at the hospitals has become a center of corruption. This has led to shortages of some medicines and the purchase of others that has expired. The system has failed to provide the medications prescribed by the doctors.”
He continued: “Only weeks ago, I toured the Carlos Andrade Marín Hospital in Guayaquil and saw the full extent of the corruption, where patients were unable to get the medicines promised them by the health system. I left the hospital heartbroken but also angry. We will fix the system and put those responsible for the theft and corruption in prison.”
He said the investigation into hospital procurement fraud continues and that he expects a number of hospital administrators and sales agents to be convicted in the coming months.
Borrero did not offer a schedule of when the transfer of medication services will be removed from hospitals and taken over by private and public pharmacies.
In Monday’s comments, the vice president said that the Covid-19 delta variant, discovered last week in El Oro and Guayas Provinces, has probably spread to other areas of the country. “Through the last year we have learned that the virus has its own history and its own progression and we must be prepared for it,” he said. “We cannot be scared and must prepare for it by continuing the vaccination program and following public safety measures such as masking and social distancing.”
He said he is “thrilled” by the recent surge in vaccine demand. “We are on our way to recovery as we witness the remarkable effectiveness of vaccines around the world.”
Borrero said that fixing the problems in the country’s public hospitals is the government’s top priority. “Nothing is more important than the health of our citizens and they have not received the care they deserve due to corruption and mismanagement. We are committed to restoring the health of the system.”