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S-G report - stockpiles of medicines

1) Rising trend in medical goods 'stockpiles' - nearly 29 per cent in 6
2) How the calculations were done
3) Improvements expected
4) Background comment (including excerpt from S-G Feb 99 report)

Dear all

I started writing a summary of the latest Secretary General's report, but it
got out of hand. Will try again. Meanwhile, I spent hours figuring out that
the amounts of medical goods in warehouses _continues_ to rise, albeit
slowly. Very unfortunate for folk in Iraq, no doubt will be used by their
enemies in Washington and London.



Voices in the Wilderness UK
16B Cherwell St
Oxford OX4 1BG
01865 243 232

1) Rising trend in medical goods 'stockpiled' in Iraqi warehouses

My calculations, based on the last three reports, suggest that there was a
decided jump in the size of the problem at the end of last year (26 per
cent), and then a slight rise in the first quarter of this year (2 per
cent). Nearly 29 per cent rise in six months.

Making some assumptions, the value of medicines, medical supplies and
medical equipment piling up 'unnecessarily' in central government warehouses
seems to have gone from

$148.9m on 31 October 1999, to
$187.6m on 31 January 2000, to
$191.54 on 30 April 2000.

Note: there have been inconsistencies in the way that the UN figures deal
with the main three categories (of medicines, medical supplies, and medical
equipment) and with the important category of 'items that have failed
quality testing', but which remain in warehouses - as at 31 October 1999,
this last category accounted for $11.2m (5.6 per cent) of the value of goods
in central warehouses (S-G report, 12 November 1999).

I have tried to take account of these inconsistencies, but direct,
consistent, information from the OIP would be useful.

2) How the calculations were made

At 31 October 1999, $187.8m worth of medical goods were in warehouses. (S-G,
12 November 1999 report) If we presume that the proportions of stock
undergoing quality testing and being held as buffer stock were the same as
in November 1999 (3.9 and 16.8 per cent respectively), this means that the
value of goods being held 'unnecessarily' was roughly $148.9m.

We know that betweeen November 1999 and April 2000, the percentage of items
undergoing quality control increased from 3.9 to 9.2 per cent, 'because of
arrivals in March and April 2000' (para. 45, 1 June 2000 report). This
indicates that the proportion of medical supplies undergoing quality control
as at 31 January 2000 (the next reporting date) was much lower than in April

According to the 10 March S-G report, as at 31 January 2000, health
commodities worth $236m were in central warehouses. ($803m arrived minus
$567m distributed, para. 140.)

If we assume that $11.8m (5 per cent) worth of goods were in quality
control, and buffer stocks were around $36.6m (15.5 per cent; mid-way
between the November 1999 and April 2000 figures), this would mean that the
value of 'unnecessarily undistributed' medical goods in warehouses was
$187.6m on 31 January 2000.

The 1 June 2000 report indicates that the 'stock balance' in central
warehouses of 'medical supplies' - which appears to include medicines and
medical equipment - was $251.7 million on 30 April 2000. 14.7 per cent of
this constituted legitimate 'buffer stock', and 9.2 per cent were items
undergoing quality control (para. 45).

This would indicate that $191.54m worth of medical supplies were piling up
in central government warehouses 'unnecessarily'.

3) Improvements expected

The 1 June 2000 report says, 'The World Health Organization reported that
some distribution bottlenecks have been resolved'.

'The arrival of 62 cold chain trucks and 35 prefabricated cold stores should
improve both the storage capacity at central and governorate warehouses, and
the distribution of supplies. The recent arrival of forklifts has slightly
eased handling constraints at warehouses.'

'However, telecommunication difficulties continued between central and
governorate warehouses, and between warehouses and health facilities.
Furthermore, low-capacity computers at central warehouses are insufficient
to handle the volume of data, which also hampers observation. Contracts for
central warehouse computers remain on hold, awaiting the provision by the
Government of Iraq of additional information requested by the [Sanctions]
Committee.' (para. 46)

4) Background comment

No evidence has ever been produced that the build-up of stocks of medical
goods in central warehouses is the result of deliberate, malign, obstruction
by the Iraqi Government. The Secretary General has reported, repeatedly,
that there are logistical, motivational and other problems with the
distribution process, most of them the result of the conditions imposed by
the economic sanctions.

Secretary General's report, February 1999:
'The delays in distributing medical supplies, resulting in
accumulations in warehouses, are due in part to _the lack of modern
managerial tools, poor working conditions within the warehouses and the lack
of transport for moving the supplies to health centres._ They are also due,
in part, to the rigid hierarchy in the Ministry of Health administration
which makes it difficult for functionaries to approve deliveries without
approval of superiors, and this takes time.' (para. 31, emphasis added)

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