DOH automates monitoring, inventory of COVID-19 supplies

© PCOO, file DOH automates monitoring, inventory of COVID-19 supplies

MANILA, Philippines — Amid the investigation by Congress of the Department of Health (DOH)’s procurement of overpriced and substandard medical supplies for the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency has adopted an automated tracking system for such supplies.

According to DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, they have adopted the automated system to effectively monitor and keep an inventory of their stockpiles of COVID-19 supplies.

“We have already put in place safeguards in our supply chain and management. So we now have a COVID-19 Supply Management Tracking System,” she said at a briefing last Friday.

Vergeire noted that with the digital tracking system, they will be able to determine supplies that are already running out, thus enabling the agency to place new orders.

Aside from this, the DOH will also be able to identify supplies that are nearing the end of their shelf life.

She added as part of the system, the DOH had imposed a “recall and replace mechanism” for the commodities that have a short shelf life.

“When we are already on the fifth month, for instance, of commodities with six-month shelf life, we will be able to immediately inform the manufacturers to give us products with extended shelf life,” she maintained.

The DOH and the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management are facing a congressional probe over the procurement of some P550 million worth of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kits that were to expire in six months.

This was much lower than the DOH’s request for test kits with 12 to 24 months’ shelf life.

In an earlier statement, the DOH said that RT-PCR test kits with six months shelf life “are not near expiry.”

The agency added in 2020 at the start of the pandemic, the RT-PCR test kits that were available in the market really had a shelf life of only six months.

This was because manufacturers were unsure if their test kits would be stable and useful beyond six months.

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