By Noreen Jazul
Secretary Francisco Duque on Monday said the lack of warehouses caused the Department of Health’s (DOH) problem in medicine distribution, which the Commission on Audit (COA) recently called its attention to.
Duque, in an interview with ANC, said “warehousing capacity” contributed to the millions of pesos worth of medicine stocks nearing expiry or expired medicines of the Department of Health (DOH).
“Ang naging problema nga yung warehousing capacity. That’s from the national to the regional to the local…May problema pati central natin,” Duque said.
The health secretary said it was not easy to find warehouses since drugs and medicines require a special storage place.
“It has to be climate-controlled otherwise the efficacy of the medicines will go down,” Duque underscored.
“Kung kailangan mo ngayon [ng warehouse], tatawag ka, ipapa bid mo, eh di naman basta basta meron, kasi kulang din ang warehouses talaga sa Metro Manila,” he added.
Duque also said that he already asked the Philippine Red Cross if the health department could use some of its warehouses.
“We want to put up already regional hubs para dun na lang, hindi yung manggagaling ng central tapos ibababa mo sa regions, tapos regions ibaba mo pa, ang tagal, it takes forever to do that,” Duque explained.
The health secretary underscored that adding more warehouses in the regions will help make distribution of medicines to the local government units faster.
Aside from shortage of specialized warehouses, Duque said the dengvaxia scare and the lack of need for particular medicines were also factors in DOH’s distribution problem.
“During my time as secretary of health, nagkaroon tayo ng AH1N1 pandemic so we need to secure an adequate amount of Oseltamivir or Tamiflu, yung gamot for pandemic AH1N1, pero kasi ang gamot you have to understand parang insurance din yan, kung di siya magagamit, ibig sabihin di nag kasakit yung tao, will you take it against the DOH?” he explained.
Duque also mentioned that the Supreme Court’s order to stop the distribution of contraceptive implants, Implanon and Implanon NXT, contributed to the “congestion” and “bursting at the seams” of DOH’s existing warehouses.
Duque then assured the public and COA that “reforms” will be put in place in the health department.
“Meron na kaming mga na identify na warehouse and hollers to bring in container vans of commodities,” he said.
The health secretary also said that DOH was establishing a procurement supply chain management office, which will focus on the department’s planning, procurement, delivery, warehousing, distribution, and utilization.
Duque vowed to hold accountable officials and personnel who will be found to be responsible for the over P296 million worth of expired or nearly expired medicines stocked in DOH warehouses.
“We are addressing this right now …pinapa-imbestigahan natin sino ba yung mga program mangers, it begins with the program managers,” he said.
“That is the purpose of the investigation, [it] is to pinpoint accountability because otherwise how can you change,” he added.