Sending Surplus Medical Supplies To Developing Country Hospitals 'Not The Antidote' To Poor Conditions

“Every year, hospitals in America throw away thousands of tons of usable medical supplies and equipment – by some measures 7,000 tons a year, a value of $20 billion. … Yet every year, hospitals in developing countries around the world turn away patients or provide substandard care because they lack even the most basic medical equipment,” journalist and author Tina Rosenberg writes in the New York Times’ “Opinionator” blog. She describes the work of several organizations that collect excess or unwanted medical supplies and redistribute them to hospitals in need in developing countries.

Rosenberg writes, “Sending needed surplus medical supplies to poor countries is an elegant concept.  But it is not the antidote for the barren conditions of many third-world hospitals.” She says there is often a lack of training for health workers on new machines, supplies run out, and machines break, with “very little chance of being repaired” (8/4).