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Jun 29, 2009

Inquiry confirms overpricing of supplies at K.H.M.H. …

This is week three of the standoff between the Board and doctors of the K.H.M.H. And while the two sides are still engaged in negotiations and meetings, the report of the preliminary inquiry, ordered by the Prime Minister, is out and it confirms overpricing of medical supplies. Whether or not heads will roll is still up in the air. There are four issues that stand out after the prolonged impasse between the two parties. The first point, according to the report, in fact clears the man in middle of the controversy, K.H.M.H. Chairman Dr. Ricardo Fabro. The report states that there is nothing to suggest that Dr. Fabro was involved in any wrongdoing. Only last week the Belize Medical and Dental Union, which represents the over fifty doctors who called for Fabro’s termination, released documents showing how a contract worth seventy thousand dollars which his MC Pharmacy got ended up amounting to over seven hundred thousand dollars. Ministry of Health’s C.E.O., Doctor Peter Allen later explained that while the Tendering Committee did not approve the procurement, the Ministry of Health did, and that the contract was terminated upon Fabro’s appointment to the Board. Secondly, the report found that for the most part, the prices for medical supplies paid by K.H.M.H. were higher than prices offered by contractors. But while this is so, the report says that SOME prices paid by the hospital “well exceeded any understandable margin of difference”. Point three states that it remains unclear why quotations were not solicited until March 2009 for purchases from individual retailers. The report further states that it was because of the absence of such a system, coupled with extremely inflated prices paid during the period in question, that has given legitimacy to complaints of corruption. Finally, the Prime Minister, in a statement on the investigation, calls on the K.H.M.H. Board to take immediate action to deal with the documented cases of unjustifiably high prices paid without securing comparative quotations. The PM also instructs the Board that it must act against the person or persons responsible for the overpricing and calls on the Board to urgently implement the full independent audit it promised and to submit the results to the B.M.D.U. for further scrutiny.

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