Medicine ‘worth millions’ destroyed in flood

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Large quantities of medication, potentially worth millions of euros, were destroyed when a Health Ministry storage facility in Nicosia was flooded last month, it was revealed on Wednesday, reminiscent of a Cyprus government basement flooding a year ago that downed public servers and websites.

The latest flooding occurred during a recent bout of extreme rainfall and hailstorm in Nicosia on Green Monday, March 18.

A substantial number of medicines were damaged, prompting the removal of thousands more packages to safeguard them from potential flood damage.

The health ministry said it is “in the process of assessing the extent of the damages, with the financial implications yet to be determined,” avoiding addressing concerns over possible shortages for patients.

In comments to state broadcaster CyBC, Health Minister Michalis Damianou refuted claims of any attempt to conceal the incident, despite the fact of it being revealed more than two weeks after it had occurred.

The minister sought to downplay the severity of the disaster, suggesting that “a comprehensive assessment should wait until the committee completes its evaluation of damages”.

He attributed the incident to unpredictable weather, describing it as an “act of God.” However, he committed to investigating the matter and assigning accountability where necessary.

Preventing shortages

Damianou emphasised the ministry’s primary focus is preventing shortages and assured that steps were being taken accordingly.

To address the damages and meticulously take inventory of the affected medicines, an ad hoc committee of pharmacologists has been established by the minister.

The affected supplies included specialised therapeutics, medications prescribed upon request, and general hospital medicines.

These stocks are managed on behalf of the health insurance organisation (HIO) and the state health services (OKYPY), which were reported to have been notified immediately about the situation.

Media reports on Wednesday suggest that the storage facilities housed drugs worth tens of millions of euros, while concerns had been raised about the suitability of the building for months prior to the incident.

The incident is reminiscent of another flooding at the Finance Ministry’s basement in April last year when a leak in a nearby unauthorised water tank knocked out government servers for several days, including state websites, while a number public services could not do business due to the fallout.

Affected websites included the Ministry of Finance, the Tax Department and the Department of Customs, Social Insurance online services, the Land Registry, the Civil Registry and Migration Department and the Department of the Registrar of Companies.