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Expired medication is worth not $9 million but $2.5 million

Last month it was reported that millions of dollars of medication had expired and had been stored at a compound in Ladyville Village for appropriate disposal. The medication includes vitamins like pre-natal medication and antibiotics, among others. Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ramon Figueroa says that the value of the medicine has been erroneously reported in certain sections of the media. He added that some of the medication dates back to more than ten years ago.

Dr. Ramon Figueroa, CEO, Ministry of Health

“We needed space and we did an inventory and we found those medications that were there for many years before, they were simply not taken out. Accumulated over the many years it was not a one year, again the perception that all of them expired at one time is not true, you’re looking at probably last ten years, some were donations through UNICEF or other organizations and what we did was we took them out in containers because we wanted to get rid of them. The problem with getting rid of them is that it has to go to the House of Representatives, it has to be quantified and so we had gotten the Department of the Environment to look at it because we can’t just dispose of them. They asked us to look at just tendering them out because we can’t just burn them or bury them there is a specific process they have to go through. The figure that was quoted there about $9 million that is not true. The estimate comes up to about $2 million or $2.5 million Belize dollars. Some of them were donations left by – for example when agencies come into the country and give medication to the health services when they leave they leave it here in Belize and they stored it at the Central Medical storage and it expired so it a whole combination of different sources. Some of the ones that we purchased also did expire but it’s not the $2.5 million total.”

Dr. Figueroa accepted that this particular matter highlighted a weakness in the health system in Belize with regards to the supply chain management process.