Centralized sourcing of medical supplies eyed

A neophyte solon is proposing a centralized procurement of essential medical supplies needed to fight coronavirus disease or Covid-19.

Quezon City Rep. Precious Castelo said the purpose is to ensure that those who need these medical supplies would get them.

Castelo urged the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the Department of Finance (DOF) to consider procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) items like suits or gowns, face shields and masks and other supplies such as alcohol and medicines, and distribute these to hospitals and patients at cost.

The two departments could easily source these products from domestic and foreign producers.

Meanwhile, Castelo said, the government could designate a private group composed of businessmen already helping in the fight against Covid-19 to do the procurement on the same condition that it should obtain the best price and distribute the supplies at cost.

She lamented that despite government efforts to make supplies available and affordable, “prices continue to go up because donors, hospitals and even patients desperately needing them are engaged in a bidding war.”

“The DTI and the DOF should intervene to stop this practice. They should also go after hoarders, price manipulators, and unscrupulous importers and distributors who are making a killing at the expense of the sick and needy,” Castelo said.

She warned the authorities that unless the bidding war stops, only hospitals with sufficient resources and rich patients would get the PPE items and medicines they need.

She said even basic medicines for flu-like symptoms that can lead to COVID-19 are running out of stock.

Castelo then reminded the DTI, the DOF and other government agencies that under the Bayanihan to Heal As One law, it is their responsibility to procure medical supplies and drugs “in the most expeditious manner” and to make these available and affordable to those who need them, especially poor patients.

They are also mandated to go after hoarders, profiteers and price manipulators, she stressed.