Insabi Abandons Direly Needed Ventilators in Customs

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Mexico’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing (Insabi), which is responsible for purchasing medications and medical equipment for all government-run hospitals and public health facilities, abandoned at least 185 ventilators at the customs office in Manzanillo, Colima.

The ventilators had been purchased to attend to seriously ill covid-19 patients, but were never delivered to the appropriate hospitals.

Moreover, Insabi never reported the incident to the government’s Superior Audit Office (ASF), nor the fact that it received an additional 515 ventilators from Encore Health, which is in charge of the distribution of ventilators and other medical equipment in Mexico.

On Feb. 20, the ASF reported that, while reviewing the management of resources used in 2020 by Insabi to attend to the covid-19 pandemic, it detected that Insabi paid more than 920 million pesos for ventilators that were not delivered within the established period.

Given this situation, the ASF reported, the Institute hired an office in the United Kingdom to take legal action against the British company Viva Enterprises Limited, which was to supply the ventilators.

However, upon investigation, it was discovered that Insabi had received 515 contracted ventilator, while leaving the remaining contracted 185 ventilators at the Manzanillo customs office.

Based on the original contract between Insabi and Viva Enterprises, Mexico had agreed to purchase 1,000 ventilators for a total amount of $59.2 million.

However, the ASF reported, the company received only 815 ventilators over a span of time and, the remaining 185 ventilators, which arrived in Mexico on March 20, 2021, were never retrieved by Insabi.

Insabi was notified by Mexican customs that the ventilators were ready to pick up, but the Institute of Health and Wellbeing never responded.

On June 22 of last year, Julia Elizabeth Muñiz Sierra, head of the Manzanillo Customs department, notified Insabi that the merchandise had been in that facility for too long and had been declared tacitly abandoned, giving Insabi a period of 15 days for it to be withdrawn.

“After the period indicated, if Insabi does not collect the merchandise, it will become the property of the federal treasury,” she wrote.

Insabi never replied.

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