COA: Health dep’t has P1.16B idle/unused medical equipment

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    THE Department of Health has purchased various medical equipment totaling P1.163 billion since 2016 that are classified as “idle/unutilized” based in a 2019 report released by the Commission on Audit (COA) last October 5.

    Government auditors said equipment worth P498.727 million were acquired under the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) while P663.787 million were non-HFEP procurements.

    They warned that while left unused, these properties are exposed to “deterioration, theft, lapse of warranty period/expiry date” which may result in wastage of government funds and non-attainment of the program objective to upgrade quality of healthcare services.

    Among the equipment identified were computerized tomography (CT) scan machines, X-ray machines, modular medical oxygen generator, hemodialysis machines, hematology analyzers, hemoglobin analyzers, endoscopy sets, pharma/vaccine refrigerators and various laboratory apparatus.

    In addition to idle equipment, the audit team also listed undelivered equipment worth P169.345 million, delayed deliveries worth P11.804 million, untimely purchases of P19.464 million, and undistributed equipment amounting to P16.815 million.

    “The occurrence of undelivered/delayed, undistributed, and unutilized medical equipment displayed the poor strategic planning and inadequate monitoring by the agencies against the policy of the State that all resources shall be used appropriately,” the report said.

    The team warned that the longer the expensive equipment are left idle, the greater the risk of obsolescence and future breakdown due to deterioration.

    “In effect, the main goal of the (HFEP) to improve delivery of basic, essential, as well as specialized health services through the revitalization, rationalization, and upgrading of health facilities was not attained,” it added.

    In some instances, the machines were bought and delivered even when the beneficiary public hospital did not have the power supply or suitable space for their proper installation.

    Auditors also discovered that the DOH purchased medical machineries only to realize the recipient center of health development (CHD) does not have the trained personnel who can operate them.

    In other cases, there were also issues of incompatibility with existing systems and facilities.

    Based on COA’s list, among the hospitals that got assigned unused equipment under the HFEP were Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital (P160.68 million), Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (P120 million), unspecified CHDs in Region 6 or Western Visayas (P100.915 million), and St. Anthony Mother and Child Hospital (69.953 million).

    The Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital notified the COA that equipment delivered to it have been installed and ready for use as of January 2020.

    The management of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center said its modular medical oxygen generators became operational on June 5, 2020 after spending P115 million for power supply in the correct capacity.

    Government hospitals with idle equipment under non-HFEP procurement were identified as Cotabato Regional and Medical Center (P298.86 million), Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (P181.739 million), Caraga Regional Hospital (P161.275 million), and Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center (P13.047 million).

    The Cotabato Regional and Medical Center said most major equipment have been installed and undergoing a “last phase of testing and commissioning.”

    Meanwhile, the Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center and the Caraga Regional Hospital said suitable space for the installation and operation of the equipment delivered to them is nearing completion.