Stricter regulation of PPE prices needed as COVID-19 response continues: Hospital exec

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 03 2020 03:30 PM

MANILA — As the Philippines eases restrictions on businesses and transportation, and hospitals re-open other services, a hospital official on Wednesday called for the need for stricter regulation on prices of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“At some point in time during the surge of the cases, N95 was skyrocketing at P350,” Dr. Saturnino Javier, director of the Makati Medical Center, said during a virtual forum organized by BusinessWorld and Philippine Star.

Although the hospital did not purchase at that high price, it had to spend P150 to P180 on N95 masks at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country to make sure its health care workers were equipped with “good quality masks”, Javier said. 

Asked what laws the forum speakers would suggest as the country continues to battle COVID-19, Javier said, “The idea is not to craft new laws, but to put muscle in existing laws.”

One example is “good regulation of PPEs and supplies.”

“Ensuring regulation of prices like this will definitely go a long way,” he said.

Javier recalled how difficult March and April were for the MMC.

“You have an emergency room full of patients waiting to be admitted… Some of your nurses are in quarantine,” he recalled. “Occupancy is down. When occupancy is down, naturally revenues will fall.”

He said it was a “double whammy-kind of situation” as the hospital also had to spend a lot on PPEs, “some exorbitantly priced by unscrupulous suppliers.”

Javier said they are hoping that they have gone past that “chaotic situation” to a “new normal” where they resume other services gradually while continuing to ensure the safety of both patients and health workers.

“All of these will hopefully manage some fear - fear among the patients and fear among the health care professionals,” he said.