[IWAR] BOSNIA half donated drugs worthless

From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Thu Dec 18 1997 - 09:20:41 PST

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                   Half the drugs donated for Bosnia war were unusable
          Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net
          Copyright ) 1997 Reuters
       BOSTON (December 17, 1997 6:00 p.m. EST http://www.nando.net) - At least
       half of the drugs donated during the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina were
       unusable and there is evidence the relief effort may have been used to
       dump outdated supplies, according to a study published in Thursday's New
       England Journal of Medicine.
       The cost of disposing of an estimated 17,000 tons of the useless medical
       supplies now falls on the World Health Organization, which plans to
       build incinerator plants for that purpose, the study's authors
       They also said the companies that donated the medicines have probably
       received tax deductions for their worthless contributions.
       Dr. Patrick Berckmans and other researchers from the European
       Association for Health and Development in Brussels and the European
       Institute of Oncology in Milan used a variety of sources to track the
       medical supplies that entered Bosnia-Herzegovina between 1992 and the
       middle of 1996.
       They found that out of the 27,800 to 34,800 tons of drugs and medical
       materials donated, between 13,900 and 20,900 tons were useless or
       Drugs whose shelf life had expired by the time they arrived, drugs with
       unreadable labels, and medicines spoiled during transportation or
       storage were commonly sent to the war-torn region. Other medicines were
       damaged during the shelling of warehouses.
       Some donations included army medical supplies from World War II and
       supplies of a drug to treat leprosy, "a disease not found in the former
       Yugoslavia," researchers said.
       "For each ton of inappropriate drugs donated, the donor avoids
       destruction costs of $2,000, putting the recipients in the embarrassing
       position of having to destroy these quantities at a more or less
       equivalent cost, provided that adequate incineration facilities are
       available," the researchers concluded in an opinion column.
       "Thus, 17,000 metric tons of inappropriate drugs may save donors $25.5
       million (after the deduction of $500 per ton for the cost of
       transportation to Bosnia and Herzegovina) and cost the recipient country
       $34 million," they said. "Donors may also benefit from substantial tax
       deductions, because their donations are considered 'humanitarian
       Other studies, focusing on aid sent to people affected by earthquakes in
       Armenia and Mexico, to the former Soviet Union, and to Africa during the
       food crisis, have documented similar trends, Berckmans and his
       colleagues said.
       The researchers fault the World Health Organization, in part, for not
       providing better coordination for collecting and dispensing medical
       supplies during a relief effort. Part of the job, they said would
       include "promptly denouncing inappropriate donations."
       The New England Journal of Medicine article does not identify the source
       of any of the donations regarded by the authors as inappropriate.
       The researchers also call for a system that allows companies to get a
       tax credit only when the donation has been deemed by local health
       ministries to be useful and "acceptable for humanitarian assistance."
       "Punitive fines and other sanctions should be directed at companies or
       institutions that dump drugs," they concluded. "Among other things, the
       financial burden of destroying unusable donated drugs or eventually
       returning them to their country of origin should be placed on the
       By GENE EMERY, Reuters

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