by Allan Yves Briones
Drugs and medicines worth P30.35 million were found to have already gone bad, having been delivered by the Department of Health (DOH) to various health facilities less than one year before expiry.
According to an audit report by the Commission on Audit (COA), an investigation of various hospitals and health facilities disclosed that drugs distributed by the DOH Central Office amounting to P12.65 million were near expiry upon arrival.
In addition, various inventory items procured by the same hospitals including drugs, medicines, and medical and dental supplies worth P17.7 million were in a similar boat “due to inefficient procurement planning and non-monitoring of inventory stock-level.”
Source: 2018 Annual Audit Report on the Department of Health
“Existence of expired and near expiry inventory items does not only deprived the marginalized people to avail the intended/needed benefits to be provide but may also further result to wastage of the meager funds of the government,” the audit report reads.
The state auditing agency points the blame at the DOH Central Office, calling out its “inefficiency and ineffectiveness” for its failure to immediately distribute the drugs and medicines, and in reverse, their uncalled for distribution when no previous requests have been made.
Under DOH Administrative Order No. 9-B, all procured drugs and medicines “should have a shelf life of at least one and a half years from the date of delivery.” The same standard is practiced by the World Health Organization.
In the report, the health department explained that the delays could be explained by a variety of factors including the slow release of test results and the incorrect computation of target population.
The state auditing agency demanded that the department’s Public Health Services Team and Procurement and Supply Chain Management Team to explain this failure in distribution, as well as the overstocking of inventories.
In addition, state auditors urged the health department to carefully plan and monitor the procurement of drugs, medicines and medical supplies to prevent such wastage again in the future.
The health department was also reprimanded for over P367 million in near expired drugs and medicines idle in warehouses.