Gov’t to buy P19.1B worth of meds in 2020 – Recto
MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is planning to buy P19.1 billion worth of drugs and vaccines in 2020 and send 80% of these to the provinces, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said Wednesday.
Recto said this was contained in President Rodrigo Duterte’s 36-page budget message for 2020 in the proposed P4.1-trillion 2020 national budget sent to Congress on Tuesday.
The President directed that 80% of 2020 purchases “shall be allocated to provinces where the incidence of diseases is highest,” the senator added.
Recto lauded Malacañang’s plan, saying that the President was making the “right drug prescription.”
“By adopting this new distribution formula, government is saying that it has learned its lesson and that there will no longer be a repeat of drugs spoiling in DOH [Department of Health] warehouses,” Recto said in a statement.
“Kung ang gamot ay dapat fast-acting, ganoon din dapat ang distribution nito. This rule in dispensing drugs is as old as the proverb ‘Aanhin pa ang damo, kung patay na ang kabayo?’” he added.
[If the medicine is supposed to be fast-acting, then its distribution should be the same. This rule in dispensing drugs is as old as the proverb: Of what use is the grass when the horse is already dead.]
Recto said funds for the purchase of pharmaceutical products were lodged in the DOH budget and account for 20% of the proposed P92.2 billion allocation for 2020.
He said that more stocks in the “government’s medicine cabinet” would reduce the “out-of-pocket” yearly expenditures for drugs in Filipino households, which reached P187 billion in 2017.
However, Recto urged DOH officials to immediately heed the President’s instructions and already distribute the drug stocks as “drug spoilage is not a blockbuster movie that merits sequels.”
Citing a Commission on Audit (COA) report, Recto noted that the DOH had accumulated P18.4 billion worth of overstocked drugs and medicines yet to be distributed in 2018.
For the total budget allocated to the DOH for 2020 is P166.6 billion — P92.2 billion for the “DOH proper,” P67.4 billion in premium payments of sponsored sectors to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (Philhealth) and other health agencies, like the four Quezon City-based specialty hospitals, among others.
“If we use P166.5 billion as the reference figure, then about 12 percent of this amount will be for drugs, medicines and vaccines,” Recto said.
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