Some 32 ventilators donated by footballer Lionel Messi have been stored at his native Rosario's Fisherton international airport for 10 months, entangled in red tape.
All this equipment arrived on a private flight from Spain on August 8, at the expense of the Messi Foundation, and have been stored at the airport ever since, pending clearances from the National Administration of Medicines, Food and Medical Equipment (Anmat) and the Customs Bureau.
According to a source quoted by the Rosario daily La Capital, the equipment ”is in some sort of limbo,” because customs procedures cannot be completed without the proper paperwork.
At the Messi Foundation and according to La Capital, it is believed that it is a matter of Anmat homologation what is keeping the equipment in storage instead of at hospitals, which also matches the information available at the Rosario City Hall.
The ventilators, manufactured by the automotive company Seat, were never used in Spain. The Messi Foundation shipped the first 32 of a total of 50 such appliances projected. The equipment destined for the city's hospitals is not the only donation that the footballer made since the beginning of the pandemic to healthcare centres in the country. In May last year, the foundation donated artificial respirators, infusion pumps and multiparametric monitors to the Garrahan Hospital in Buenos Aires and from there they were distributed to other provinces.
The Santa Fe provincial Health Ministry admitted eight respirators (model HT70 Plus Newport Medtronic, manufactured in the United States), four monitors (5P + PI-ETCO2 Edan, Tactil IM70) and twenty pumps of Syringe Infusion (Medcaptain model MP-30) are already operational at the Centenario and Cullen public hospitals in the provincial capital.
Anmat Wednesday explained that the Messi Foundation has not yet provided the required documents to allow the equipment through customs. They do not have the certificate of free sale issued by the health authority of origin, said Anmat through a statement.
It is clarified that the ANMAT did not authorize the entry of the products called MECHANIZED AUTOMATED RESUSCITING BALL (referred to as respirators”), which were donated by the Messi Foundation to the Municipality of Rosario, for not presenting the necessary documentation to this National Administration the authorization of entry of the donation. They are prototypes that do not have the free sale certificate issued by the health authority of origin,” the statement said.
Anmat also stated that the application for admission initiated by the recipient of the donation had been entered in August 2020, at which time the lack of proper documentation was pointed out and that no new documents have been received ever since.
Rosario's Health Secretary Leonardo Caruana acknowledged that respirators would be useful to alleviate the tension that exists in the city's health system, in which infections have fallen in recent days, but remain on the verge of saturation level of ICU beds occupancy.