Ordinary ailments that can be easily treated such as diarrhea continue to cause the deaths of Filipinos especially infants, mainly because their families cannot afford to buy the needed medicine.
This makes more disgraceful the findings of government auditors that millions worth of various types of drugs procured by the government are being wasted. The Commission on Audit reported that P5.48 million worth of expired drugs were found in government health centers in Manila and Davao City and in the Davao Region office of the Department of Health. Other drugs and medical supplies worth P3.952 million were nearing expiry in DOH regional offices in Metro Manila, Caraga and Davao, the COA reported.
The auditors blamed delays of 168 to 218 days in the delivery of the drugs and medical supplies for the problem. The COA also reported an “overstock” of P16.4 million worth of drugs and medical supplies in DOH regional offices in Cagayan Valley and Caraga. On top of this, P43.45 million worth of mobile dental vehicles distributed by the DOH to its offices in Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, Caraga and the Zamboanga Peninsula could not be used due to various defects and were deteriorating without repairs, the COA reported.
Public health services are so inadequate that poor people whose illnesses require complex medical procedures and costly treatment simply wait for death to come. Even for those who have some money saved for regular kidney dialysis, for example, medical facilities might be inaccessible. And even the moderately well off complain about the high cost of medicine compared to other countries.
The DOH must review and identify the causes of backlogs in its distribution system to plug the inefficiencies. Local governments must do their part and conduct similar reviews. Promoting the health of constituents involves more than posing for photos while giving away medical kits bearing the name and image of the mayor or governor.
Wasting precious public resources is a criminal offense. Wasting life-saving drugs is even more reprehensible.