JULY 10, 2009

Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay has asked the national government to institute reforms in the purchasing and monitoring of medicine to address the problem of overstocked and expired medicine in national government hospitals.

The opposition leader said he sees the possibility of taxpayers’ money again going to waste with Mrs. Arroyo’s request for Congress to set aside P19.8 billion to combat the AH1N1 virus.

“Assuming that the purchases are urgently needed and necessary, we need to be assured that the national government has reformed its purchasing and monitoring system to make sure that public funds are not wasted and that the people receive the medicine they need on time,” he said.

Binay cited a report that government hospitals had kept P8 million worth of surplus and expired medicine in 2007, some of which were purchased under the “GMA 50” program launched in July 2001 by Mrs. Arroyo.

The report blamed the Department of Health’s inadequate purchase planning, release scheme, and poor monitoring for the prevalence of overstocked and expired medicine.

But Binay said he seriously doubts if the purchases are necessary. “These medicine may end up rotting in the bodegas of government hospitals, for the simple reason that they do not fight AH1N1,” he said.

Binay said the World Health Organization (WHO) had said there is no vaccine against the virus.

“The national government is asking an astronomical amount to stock medicine for a virus that has no known cure. How can the Arroyo administration justify such purchase and why should Congress give them the money?” he said.

The Makati mayor had said the P19.8 billion can be put to better use upgrading the facilities of health centers and government hospitals, particularly in the rural areas, and purchasing drugs and medicine for common ailments.

“The Arroyo administration is asking for a contingency fund so it can stock up on anti-flu medicine when most Filipinos cannot even afford to buy paracetamol, antibiotics and cough medicine,” he said.

Binay said the Arroyo administration needs to align its priorities with the pressing health needs of the people, especially in the rural areas.

“The requested amount will just be another waste of taxpayers’ money. It also shows that the administration is detached from the real needs of the people,” he said.


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