COA also scores DOH ‘wastage’ of meds, supplies
The Commission on Audit (COA) has found that the Department of Health (DOH) had procured P95.15 million worth of medicines and medical supplies that were not being used because they were either expired, soon to expire or were just held in warehouses.
This is a “recurring problem” that is resulting in “indiscriminate wastage of government funds and resources,” the COA said in its Aug. 11 audit report.
The latest COA report dealt another blow to the DOH which has come under criticism and scrutiny due to deficiencies in its use of a P67.323-billion fund for pandemic response.
The report showed that the DOH had P6.6 million in expired drugs and medicines, P69 million in overstocked, slow-moving or idle drugs and medicines, and P20 million near-expired drugs and medicines. Overstocks refer to medicines or supplies that are far more than the amount needed by operating units.
“Despite our observations and recommendations in previous years, it was found that various drugs, medicines and other types of inventories are nearly expired or had expired in DOH warehouses and operating units,” the COA said.
The state auditor said the overstocked, idle and slow-moving drugs, medicines and medical supplies were proof of “excessive spending.”
“While it cannot be denied that there are a lot of Filipinos in need of drugs and medicines, especially in the countryside, millions-worth of DOH inventories were allowed to expire, thereby constituting indiscriminate wastage of government funds/resources,” the COA said.
The COA pointed out that slow-moving drugs and medicines are exposed to the risk of losing their efficacy prior to distribution to intended recipients.
The idle inventories, the COA said, required “expensive warehouse space and ties up valuable health resources which could have benefited the government’s health program for the poor.”
“Overall, the problem exposed [DOH’s] inability to safeguard, manage and utilize health funds and resources economically and effectively,” the auditors said.
The COA recommended that the agency’s legal service conduct thorough investigations and impose sanctions on all erring officials and employees.
It also told the DOH to “take immediate or concrete steps in resolving issues with the recurring problem, such as improvement of procurement planning, strengthening of distribution and monitoring systems, and review of internal controls.”
The COA had earlier strongly rebuked the DOH for the poor handling of the agency’s P67.323-billion COVID-19 funds.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Wednesday that none of the pandemic funds was stolen and that all the money was “properly allocated.”