While eight out of ten Filipinos cannot afford to buy essential medicines, the Department of Health (DOH) wasted P17.5 million worth of medicines acquired in 2012 and prior years.
Council for Health and Development (CHD), pioneer of community based approach to health, tagged the health department’s latest hubbub as “unacceptable and inhumane” because the expired and wasted medicines “could have saved hundreds of poor people’s lives.”
In a report published on November 12, 2013, the Commission on Audit (COA), state auditors revealed that P6, 647, 821.45 worth of drugs and medicines were found to be expired in the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH), Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC), Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center (JRRMMC), BGH in Region II, and Center for Health and Development (CHD) – Bicol. The report also indicated that another P10, 857, 388.05 worth of medical supplies, drugs and medicines were overstocked exceeding the normal three months requirements in Tondo Medical Center (TMC), and Southern Isabela General Hospital (SIGH) in Region II. The DOH wastage totaled to P17, 505, 209.50.
COA furthered that the DOH retained hospitals and agencies did not have specific recipients for its procured stocks and did not have proper planning, monitoring and control on utilization and distribution.
Dr. Eleanor A. Jara, CHD executive director said that the expired stocks in NCMH and POC included TB medicines that could have provided “50 children or 68 adult TB patients with full course treatments.”
She also noted that expired stocks in BGH Region II also included 1,583 packs of medicines from the DOH P100 Project. The P100 is a package of a complete course of antibiotics or maintenance drugs for hypertension, diabetes or asthma. COA indicated that these packs were “found to be expired for almost two years because these have to be issued per pack and patients prefer to buy medicines outside which is per piece.”
“This account just goes to show how DOH failed to hit the nail’s head in terms of making medicines affordable for the poor. Poor compliance is not solely because a patient chooses not to complete the course or faithfully follow a maintenance regimen. Poor compliance is largely because of the expensive prices of medicine,” Dr. Jara shared.
She added that Health Undersecretary Ted Herbosa’s statements to the media that the expired medicines and supplies may have been acquired before they assumed office can very well be likened to Pontius Pilate’s hand washing.
“It’s the easy way out. Current DOH officials should have investigated all nooks and crannies such as this as soon as they assumed office.”
The expired medicines are a reflection of the failed systems and policies DOH has. “It’s very sad that precious funds from the public coffers have gone to waste instead of providing for free medicines and health services,” Dr. Jara ended.##
Eleanor A. Jara, M.D.
Executive Director, Council for Health and Development
0927-9259413 / (+632) 929-8109
Health disaster group: All is not yet well -- epidemic may soon take over affected communities; call for comprehensive rehabilitation plan
(Philippines) – In its press conference today, disaster health group Samahang Operasyong Sagip (SOS) criticized the government anew for its inefficiency and inept leadership in responding to Yolanda’s backwash after seeing for themselves the concrete situation of the super typhoon aftermath and its survivors.
When Samahang Operasyong Sagip (SOS) signaled the alarm to help the people of Samar, scores of volunteers from different fields enlisted to take their part in the national and international effort to aid the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).
In the light of the massive destruction and scores of lives lost in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan), the Community Based Health Program, through its national organization Council for Health and Development (CHD), is foregoing the celebration of its 40th anniversary on November 12-14, 2013 at the UP College of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila.