Vietnam's Health Minister invites police to investigate doctored diagnostic equipment

By Ha An, Thanh Nien News

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A biochemistry analyzer being used at Thuong Tin Hospital in Hanoi after its equipment broke down last year. Photo: Nam Anh A biochemistry analyzer being used at Thuong Tin Hospital in Hanoi after its equipment broke down last year. Photo: Nam Anh

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Hanoi police are investigating irregularities in the import of medical devices at six district hospitals after inspectors found Chinese parts in six bio-chemical analysis devices imported from Germany.
“The city police are coordinating with the Ministry of Health to investigate and we will issue strict punishment in accordance to the law,” said Senior Lieutenant Colonel Phan Cao Thu of Hanoi police’s investigation department.
Police said they found forged state documents attached to six Greiner GA240 Auto-Chemistry Analyzers, which were imported and sold through several companies in Hanoi.
The machines are described as a computerized system useful in emergency analysis and diagnosis.
The machines were acquired through a program designed to invest in medical equipment at district hospitals using government bonds.
Participating hospitals included institutions in Hoai Duc, Thuong Tin, Van Dinh, Thanh Oai, Phu Xuyen and Quoc Oai districts.
The Minerals Import Export Joint Stock Company, located in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District, won the contract to supply the six devices for VND26.78 billion (currently US$1.26 million).
A 2012 review of the machines' use and operation noted no irregularities.
Last month, local media reported that Greiner-200s at the Hoai Duc and Thuong Tin hospitals broke down forcing the hospitals to borrow equipment of dubious origin for diagnostic lab testing.
The exposé led to an inspection by relevant agencies, who found the machines contained Chinese and Vietnamese-made parts, including motors and cooling fans.
Doctors at Hoai Duc and Thuong Tin hospitals admitted that the machines had broken down about a year ago.
On July 31, Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien told the media she was surprised to learn that there the import licenses for the two machines bore her signature (when she was deputy minister) and different dates: June 2010 and August 2010.
Tien said she will invite the police to determine if the license was forged and investigate violations of import procedures.

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