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Help for MOM! Customs, health ministry working to clear donated container of medical supplies sitting on the port for one year

Published:Sunday | November 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM
A trailer with medical supplies donated to local hospitals by Medical Outreach Missions. - Contributed

Andrew Harris, Sunday Gleaner Writer

The Ministry of Health and the Customs Department have offered their assistance to ensure that speedy clearance of a container of medical supplies donated by a United States-based charity. The container has been sitting on the wharf, uncleared, for more than a year.

But the two entities have also chided the charity, Missionary Outreach Missions (MOM) for not following the rules.

"The ministry will try to provide assistance with respect to clearing donations that did not follow protocol, however, there are no guarantees," an official of the health ministry told The Sunday Gleaner last week.

According to the official, whose name is being withheld, the ministry refuses to take the responsibility for donors who have not complied with the guidelines it has in place as it relates to accepting donations.

"The Ministry of Health will not accept responsibility for donations that involve the following practices: goods shipped without advising the Ministry of Health; failure to provide packing lists; failure to provide invoices showing values and other pertinent data; failure to consign goods correctly to the Ministry of Health.

"Donors who engage in the aforementioned practices: do so at their own risk," added the ministry official.

In the meantime, Commissioner of Customs Major Richard Reese noted that with the long time that the container has spent at port, the shipment has attracted storage and demurrage charge.

"They would have to make a request of the port to waive those duties and it's up to the port to do that. They can't do it in isolation. They would have to involve the Port Authority," said Reese.

I can't say, but the time it takes to clear it will depend on how soon they make the request," added Reese.


News of the belated push to clear the container has provided little solace to Mavis Bailey-Moore who leads MOM.

She said she was contacted by Reese last week and he offered guidance as to what her next step should be.

According to Bailey-Moore, she was asked to submit information on the medical equipment and supplies in the container, because neither the ministry nor customs seem to have the information on to the shipment.

"All the information was received by the Port Maria Hospital, who passed it on to the North East Regional Health Authority, so I was a bit surprised when he told me that I had to submit the information. I thought they already had that information," said Bailey-Moore.

"I am still disappointed at all of what is taking place, but I still want to see the hospitals get what they requested of me," she added.