The army to the rescue? The government still struggles to distribute the drugs


As if it didn’t already have enough to do, the military may soon be distributing medicine to the far corners of the country.

President López Obrador, who has relied heavily on the military since taking office almost three years ago, has raised the possibility of using the military to deliver drugs at least twice this week.

Just as soldiers were responsible for the logistics of distributing COVID-19 vaccines across the country, they could also take care of the delivery of other drugs, “if necessary,” AMLO said at the annual general meeting. from the Mexican Social Security Institute on Tuesday.

Putting the military in charge would ensure there is no shortage of drugs, he said.

The president’s remarks came two weeks after he called on Health Minister Jorge Alcocer and the director of the National Institute of Health for Welfare, Juan Ferrer, to resolve the shortages “without excuses”. long-standing drugs that plague his government.

Corner stores across Mexico sell Coca-Cola and other products despite distribution problems.

López Obrador said in July last year that he intended to set up a state-owned enterprise to distribute drugs, medical supplies and vaccines, but this has never been established and the reputation of the official asked to direct it, David León, was tarnished after the videos were broadcast. Showing him handing large sums of money to one of the president’s brothers in 2015.

AMLO came back to the idea of ​​using the military to deliver drugs at their regular press conference on Thursday. He first told reporters he would chair a cabinet meeting on Monday aimed at addressing drug shortages.

The government has enough drugs but distribution remains a problem, said López Obrador, explaining that his administration had signed contracts with distribution companies but that due to “inefficiency” or “bad faith” , they had not delivered the drugs.

He promised that the problem would be solved. “We are going to distribute medicines even in the most isolated towns,” he said before joking that his name will not be Andrés Manuel if his government fails to solve the problem of shortages.

When asked if the military would be involved in distribution efforts, AMLO replied that the entire government would be involved. If companies can get refrescos and papitas (soft drinks and crisps) in the most remote corners of the country, why can’t the government get the drugs to the same places, he asked.

If the military is given the responsibility, it will be added to a long list of non-traditional tasks it already performs. Among them: public security, the construction of infrastructure, the management of the country’s ports and the distribution of school books.

Write in the journal Milenio, columnist Carlos Marín noted with a strong dose of irony that the challenge the government faces is to establish a distribution “structure” that does “exactly the same” as health authorities, pharmaceutical companies and distribution companies did before he took office in 2018 – that is, deliver drugs purchased by the government to public health facilities across the country.

The López Obrador administration, however, did away with the established distribution system because it was plagued by “perceived or actual” corruption, Marín wrote.

He warned against using the military to deliver drugs to public hospitals and clinics, arguing that it would distract him from more important tasks.

“I don’t know how many semi-trailers, vans, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, mules and donkeys the soft drink companies use… National Guard) hijacking their vehicles for the distribution of drugs,” wrote Marín.

“The risk is that by performing traditionally civilian tasks, it is doing its main task of guaranteeing national security poorly …”

With reports from El Universal and El Sol de México

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