The PHP1 billion worth of nearly expired medicines flagged down by the Commission on Audit (COA) had been distributed already, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Wednesday.
“Presently, we were able to distribute all near-expiring medicines amounting to PHP1 billion,” Vergeire said in a media forum.
In a press release, the DOH said the COA report that presented PHP2.2 billion worth of either expired, nearly expired, overstocked, and slow-moving “has been taken out of context”.
“The DOH emphasized that the CY 2019 COA-Consolidated Annual Audit Report (CAAR) on which these articles were based was for CY 2019, which means this only covers the period of January to December 2019, adding that the current status of the DOH Central Office figures is now different,” it said.
Recognizing its vital role in ensuring that government resources are properly allocated and utilized during the pandemic, the DOH acknowledged the issues flagged by COA.
In connection with this, the DOH has implemented reforms which include the formation of a dedicated Procurement and Supply Chain Management Team and the reorganization of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau which is the office-in-charge of determining commodities and supplies of public health significance to be provided for local government units (LGUs).
“In fulfillment of the Universal Health Care Act’s provisions on financing population and individual-based services that clearly delineate the roles of the DOH, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and LGUs in health service delivery, complemented by the phased implementation of the Mandala ruling, the health department is expected to procure significantly less medicines and commodities,” the DOH said.
It added the purchase of drugs, medicines, and commodities shall be covered by the PhilHealth benefit packages and more funds are expected to be directly transferred to the LGUs.
It said the PHP322 million worth of items will expire in 2021 to 2023 and are also being distributed.
On Tuesday, Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte has urged DOH to distribute nearly expired medicines to minimize wastage of government funds. (PNA)