Press Release
August 11, 2021

Villanueva: DOH needs to unclog its chokepoints in procurement, supply chain

The health department should identify and address its procurement and supply chain chokepoints that seem to be the subject of the latest COA findings of "deficiencies" in the management of some P67 billion in COVID-19 funds in 2020, Senator Joel Villanueva said.

"Ang COA report po ay parang MRI scan ng paggamit ng pondo. Itong sa taong 2020, nagsilbi po itong diagnostic tool at kitang-kita kung saan ang bara sa DOH," Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, said.

"Of all the deficiencies enumerated by COA, the most disheartening is the delay in the procurement of mechanical ventilators. This should have fallen under expedited acquisition," he added.

COA flagged the DOH for failing to comply with existing laws and regulations in the management of some P67.323 billion in COVID-19 response funds.

Villanueva pointed out that out of the many recent findings of COA on DOH, how it utilized the funds for the HEAL COVID-19 Project represents the real debacle in the department's procurement process.

"Ayon po sa ating mga auditors, yung HEAL COVID-19 Project ay may kabuuang pondo na ?2 bilyon na maaaring gamitin po sa medical equipment, COVID-19 vaccines, patient transport vehicles at iba pa," the senator said.

"Out of this P2 billion, only P479.7 was obligated, at ito po ay para sa 90 units ng mechanical ventilators at 85 units of X-ray machines. Subalit natapos na lang po ang taon, nadagdagan na ang mga namatay sa Covid, ngunit wala pang delivery ni isang equipment na ito," he added.

"Ni-isang kusing, wala pa pong na-disburse o ibinayad."

Villanueva said no matter how much funds Congress allotted for the country's response against the COVID-19 pandemic, it is useless or ineffective if agencies such as the DOH never get to implement or realize the objectives set forth by such allocations.

"When procurement is choked by inefficiencies, a COVID-19 patient struggling to breathe dies down the line. Umaasa po tayong mayroong catch up plan ngayong taong 2021 at madeliver na rin ang mga ventilators at X-ray machines," he said.

"If DOH were a patient, problematic spending appears to be one of its comorbidities. I think DOH should make critical personnel hires in the field of procurement and supply chain management. For the pandemic to be defeated, or any public health challenge for that matter, logistics play an important role."

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