Corruption Blamed for Imports of Bad Food and Medicine

The toll of corruption on citizens' health is so high that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered an investigation on Feb. 22 into spoiled substances being smuggled across borders and sold in markets.

Despite an apparent wealth of evidence of corruption, Hassan Khalaty, a member of parliament’s Health and Environment Committee, told Al-Monitor that the media “exaggerates the phenomenon."

“Medications are subject to strict procedures of examination. Generally speaking, this is how the situation is. It is evident as hospitals, drug stores and food storehouses are full of food supplies and medications that are fit for use and come from good sources," he said.

“Finding containers loaded with expired medications — that happens sometimes because of a mistake. Dereliction or corruption is very [unusual], especially since specialized technical and security committees examine imported medical and food substances."

He provided an example of how mistakes are interpreted as corruption. Medications are delayed in shipping and remain for long periods in storehouses in bad conditions, which, sometimes, lead to their damage," he said. “There is good quality control at border crossings and inside the country. Certificates of origin and legal documents that confirm food and medications meet Iraqi standard specifications are common. Anything else is subject to legal accountability.”

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