October 30, 2015
A decade ago in the public hospital in the southern Honduran city of San Lorenzo, five people came into the emergency room with symptoms of poisoning.
After the alarmed staff investigated, they found the missing link—all the patients had taken the same medicine to treat skin infections. The government had sent the medicine to the hospital, even though when it was quality tested, it was found to be tainted.
And it seems like little has changed today. According to government regulations, every lot of medicine bought by the government should be analyzed to make sure it is safe and effective.
However, the Association for a More Just Society (AJS) investigators exposed that only 35% of medication bought by the Ministry of Health, or one in three medicines, are analyzed.
This means that approximately 7 million Hondurans are vulnerable to tainted and ineffective medications every time they go to the hospital.
As AJS lawyer Ludim Ayala says, “This is not acceptable. The Honduran government is playing with the lives of the Honduran people.”
AJS is committed to working with the government to change this.
The first step AJS took was to expose how pharmaceutical companies and the government often work together to hide low-quality medication and steal good quality medication for a profit.
Because of these investigations, six people have been arrested and other cases are in the works. AJS is showing that committing corruption has consequences!
And now AJS is reaching for change at the top levels of government. In January the new Honduran president promised AJS complete access to documents and staff at the Ministry of Health so that AJS investigators and lawyers can make sure that the government is buying quality medications and that medicines stay on the shelves.
For the first time in decades, there is hope for change in the Honduran health system, and for the millions of Hondurans whose lives depend on it!