Press Release
October 6, 2020

'48 billion reasons kung bakit kailangan bakunahan ang DOH laban sa pagsasayang ng gamot'

Any doctor will tell you never to take expired medicine, but here the DOH is leading the way in letting taxpayer-bought medicines expire in bulk.

In a nation where many resort to halving tablets for lack of money to buy the full prescribed dosage, the recently-released 2019 COA report that P2.2 billion worth of expired and about to expire drugs were languishing in DOH-run stockrooms is like being sutured without anaesthesia.

The expired drugs include those for oral health. With 9 in 10 Filipinos suffering from tooth decay and only 1 in 10 able to afford to see a dentist once a year, this news is as painful as a root canal.

The Senate should include a Special Provision in the DOH budget for 2021 that enumerates guidelines and guarantees that medicine procured will end up with patients.

If the lack of supply chain specialists is the culprit for rotting medications, then they should be recruited using the 14,553 vacancies in the DOH.

The DOH is also asking for P486 million for "Procurement and Supply Chain Management Service" for 2021. We should demand a bill of particulars for this.

Hinting of pilferage, the COA recommends the installation of CCTV cameras in and around warehouses and stockrooms. This should be funded by the P486 million. This kind of "drug trafficking" must be stopped.

Overall, we need a "fast-acting relief" from what has become a procurement sickness of this department so that drugs bought this year and next year will not be wasted.

We have almost 48 billion reasons to be worried—the P28.64 billion proposed DOH budget for drug procurement for 2021, and the P19.09 billion approved pre-pandemic budget for this year.

Ordinarily, an undisturbed medicine cabinet is good news because it means no one has any need for any of its contents. But Filipinos are medicine-poor. Surely the 371 Filipinos who die daily from heart and hypertensive diseases and the 88 who succumb to diabetes every 24 hours need help.

More than 25 percent of total health public-private spending of P799 billion in 2018 came from private out-of-pocket purchases of medicine of P225 billion.

Kailangan ng bakuna laban sa pagsasayang ng gamot.

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