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WHO responds to reports of hospitals charging for drugs in Haiti

By Staff Reporter , 10-Feb-2010

The WHO has stopped sending free drugs to private hospitals and non-governmental organisations in Haiti after receiving reports that some institutions in the earthquake stricken country had begun to charge patients.

The World Health Organisation (WHO), which has been supplying medicines as part of relief efforts, told the AFP it would only supply public hospitals for the next three months.

Spokesperson Marie-Agnes Heine said the organisation had been told that some hospitals on the island had started to charge for medications which, she described, as a misuse of supplies that must be avoided.

In a separate statement issued yesterday, the United Nations said that it too would stop sending medications to any hospital that was found to be charging patients for drugs.

Officials from the organisation told the Associated Press that a number of hospitals are thought to have begun demanding money for drugs, but did not provide additional details.

Pharmaceutical companies were among the first to respond to the devastation caused by the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12.

According to an International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers (IFPMA).statement, member firms had donated $17m (€12m) of drugs and medical supplies to relief organisations working in the region, including the WHO and the UN’s PAHO group, by the middle of last month.

The IFPMA has not yet responded to the latest reports.

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