DOH says COA report ‘taken out of context,' medicines already distributed

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 07 2020 01:34 PM | Updated as of Oct 07 2020 02:03 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health on Wednesday said the Commission on Audit (COA) report mentioning around P2.2 billion of expired medicines and supplies was “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,” the agency said in a release.

During a virtual briefing on Wednesday morning, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire also pointed out that they no longer have expiring commodities in their warehouses.

“Kasalukuyan nakapagdistribute na po tayo ng lahat near-expiring medicines amounting to P1 billion,” she said.

(Currently, we were able to distribute all near-expiring medicines amounting to P1 billion.)

Vergeire pointed out that they already distributed the items from January to August 2020.

She said the P166,320 worth of expired commodities are dental kits, which have mostly been distributed (62,410 out of 63,250). The DOH said that only the flouride toothpaste had an expiration date and that the kiddie toothbrushes, and soap were usable and were distributed.

Of the P1.1 billion idle commodities, the DOH said P815 million were already distributed and the remaining P322 million worth of items have expiry dates of 2021 to 2023. These are also undergoing distribution, the agency said.

Vergeire acknowledged that the DOH has faced logistics issues in the past. She said they recognize the work of the COA and the need to ensure efficiency of government. 

She said this is why DOH management has implemented reforms to address such issues. 

Among these are the formation of a dedicated Procurement and Supply Chain Management Team (PSCMT) and the reorganization of the Disease Prevention and Control Bureau (DPCB), the office in-charge of determining commodities and supplies of public health significance that will be provided to local government units (LGUs). 

She said the Universal Health Care Act’s provisions and the implementation of the Mandanas Ruling would result in the DOH procuring less medicines and commodities since the funding will go straight to local government units for implementation.