Ecuadorian legislator Mae Montaño announced on Tuesday that a process of impeachment against Health Minister Veronica Espinosa began, which she accuses of irregularities in the acquisition and use of tests for the early diagnosis of HIV.
The independent legislator said Tuesday at a press conference that she will collect signatures of support among her colleagues from the National Assembly (Parliament) to begin the process of political prosecution of Espinosa for the alleged breach of his duties.
Also, Montaño said he has testimonies from users of the health system that question the management of Espinosa as head of the Ministry.
“There are innumerable complaints, complaints from various sectors about the action of the minister”, he emphasized and affirmed that through drugs and supplies of dubious quality, “it has affected people who have delicate and catastrophic illnesses, such as in the case of HIV ».
“In the case of HIV, the use of inadequate supplies produced false-positive and false-negative results,” he added in his statement, referring to the failure of some HIV diagnostic tests.
He referred to the fact that this test, similar to that used to detect pregnancies, warned of a possible virus infection, when in fact the patient had not contracted it and vice versa.
In addition, Montaño reported other alleged irregularities of the Ministry of Health on the use of paracetamol analgesic and other antiseptics apparently in poor condition that “are presumed to have generated infections” in patients and even “caused the death of Ecuadorians,” he said.
“These issues we have to investigate” and the minister should take responsibility for these events if they are proven, the lawmaker said.
The complaint came after the digital media La Posta also broadcast a report entitled “The Ministry of Death”, in which it denounced that state portfolio for having acquired “dubious tests” for the early detection of the HIV virus.
According to that report, the diagnostic tests showed important percentages of error, so, apparently, it had been recommended to avoid their use.
For its part, the Ministry of Health recently assured that the HIV diagnostic tests used were supported by reports from international organizations and recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), since these tests provide sensitive information that should be , subsequently, be submitted for confirmation.
Having rapid diagnostic tests is an effective method to contain an epidemic, the Ministry added.
In a statement released on May 7 about the La Posta complaint, the Ministry of Health “categorically rejected the imprecise statements made about the management carried out by this State Portfolio”.
The ministry also said that “it is intended to generate a false alarm on a subject as sensitive as are the diagnostic methods approved and recommended by international organizations for the identification of people living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).”
To implement the strategy, recommended by the WHO and UNAIDS, in 2017 the fourth generation tests were acquired, the Ministry reported.
“All the tests we have acquired are certified by the WHO Prequalification Program (PQ), the highest international standard for quality accreditation of a drug or reagent in the world,” he said. (I)