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Lacson: DOH ambulance equipment overpriced

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Lacson: DOH ambulance equipment overpriced
Lacson revealed during the Senate hearing for the DOH’s budget in 2022 that medical equipment ranging from automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to mobile phones, dashboard cameras, and stretchers worth P1 million per ambulance are allegedly overpriced.
The STAR / Geremy Pintolo, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Panfilo Lacson scored the Department of Health (DOH) yet again yesterday, detailing how medical equipment for its ambulances are apparently grossly overpriced.

Lacson revealed during the Senate hearing for the DOH’s budget in 2022 that medical equipment ranging from automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to mobile phones, dashboard cameras, and stretchers worth P1 million per ambulance are allegedly overpriced.

“These are public funds. I augmented the budget of the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) to comply with the Universal Health Care Law. Somehow I feel guilty when I see overpricing,” he said. “We just hope the DOH would be judicious in using public funds.”

He noted, for example, that the DOH submitted prices for two mobile phones with SIM cards for Region 4A at P30,000 but local government units (LGUs) bought phones with similar specifications for only P7,998. “The discrepancy is huge,” Lacson said.

The senator also cited the dashboard cameras procured by the DOH for P15,000 each, when the retail price is P10,500 cheaper at P4,500 apiece; as well as the stretchers that cost P23,800 each when the retail price is only P21,200.

As for the AEDs procured by the DOH for Region 4A at the cost of P165,000 each, Lacson said the retail price is only P96,500 for a difference of P68,000.

“We want the DOH to explain these so this will not happen again,” he said.

In response, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the senator was right and that he has already ordered his staff to look into it so he could make a “brand-to-brand comparison” of the items.

Lacson replied to Duque, saying: “We canvassed the actual brand and specifications, to make sure. If you want, we can furnish these to you to aid you in your investigation.”

Meanwhile, the senator also pushed for the inclusion of Special Risk Allowance-type assistance to outsourced personnel in their contracts with hospitals, to make sure they are properly compensated.

“Our advice to hospitals that outsource their personnel is to include in their contracts an SRA-type assistance,” he said.

DOH PANFILO LACSON
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