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Rody emasculates DoH

OCD will coordinate with the donors and handle the release of these materials to their recipients.

Aldrin Cardona

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Weighted by public pressure, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday clipped the Department of Health’s (DoH) role in controlling the receipt and distribution of donations and medical supplies intended to aid the government’s fight against COVID-19.

The Chief Executive signed Administrative Order 27 the previous night to direct all donations from private entities, non-governmental organizations (NGO), or any group or individual, various foundations and the private sector to be placed under the management of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

The OCD will coordinate with the donors and handle the release of these materials to their recipients.

Direct donations of the same classes of goods from any of the same donors to other departments, bureaus, offices, state colleges or universities, government-owned or controlled corporations, or government hospitals or medical facilities shall continue to be allowed without need of consolidation in the OCD.

Reporting required
Such donations, however, shall immediately be reported by the recipient agencies and instrumentalities to the OCD.

Most of the donations consist of N95 and surgical masks, personal protective suits, face shields and other medical supplies. The release of most of these packages, however, have been hampered with bureaucratic delays.

What made it worse for the donors was an earlier requirement by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to secure approval from the DoH before they could deal with the government.

The scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE), however, is being blamed for the continuing rise in the number of deaths among the first liners — all doctors and nurses — who have taken the lead in the fight against the new coronavirus.

Donations overflow
Not a few doctors have aired their appeal to the government, seeking to replenish their supply of PPE while warning that the first liners would soon be decimated by death or illness.

The government, however, was not lacking in donors.

On top of the Chinese government’s donations to the Philippines, the DoH last week received the first batch of the donation by the Jack Ma Foundation and Alibaba Foundation in the form of two million face masks, testing kits for 150,000 people, 20,000 protective suits and 20,000 face shields the country shares with Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The Jack Ma Foundation said the second batch of medical supplies are expected to arrive in Manila this week.

The Tzu Chi Foundation had sent PPE to the Philippines.

Test kits from South Korea were also donated by Dennis Uy’s Udenna Corp.

San Miguel Corp and the LT Group also provided face masks and alcohol to the frontliners.

A private donor, meanwhile, relayed to Daily Tribune the ease of her transaction with e-commerce site Alibaba, which delivered her purchase of PPE on time. These will be distributed to three COVID-19 facilities in Metro Manila and in a local hospital in a Luzon province affected by the regional lockdown.

“These hospitals also experienced delays in their deals with some donor foundations. We can take it upon ourselves to purchase and donate PPE on our own through reputable e-commerce sites,” she said.

“I placed the order and it was shipped on the same day,” she relayed. “The boxes were delivered early Tuesday. It was that fast!”

Customs bottleneck frees up
The parcels did not encounter any issue at the Bureau of Customs, unlike in the past weeks when confusion still marred the government’s response to the COVID-19.

After Congress had bestowed President Duterte with special powers in the battle against the virus, various policies have been enforced and slowly refined.

These include the order to lift quarantine checkpoints manned by barangay officials along national and provincial highways, the junking of passes issued by local government units, placing of the Philippine National Police and the various commands of the Armed Forces of the Philippines along important routes where food trucks and various necessities need complete access to.

In Duterte’s new order, the OCD is being directed to prepare an inventory of all donations to the National Government and the DoH.

The OCD will then coordinate with the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Labor and Employment, or any other relevant agency as well as the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases in the Philippines created under Executive Order 168 (s. 2014), to determine which health facilities, beneficiary groups or establishments in the country, public or private, are in need of medical supplies and materials.

Logistics from DND
The Department of National Defense (DND), meanwhile, shall provide the necessary logistical support to the OCD for the immediate consolidation, distribution and delivery of the donated medicines, medical equipment and supplies and other health products to the identified beneficiary facilities, groups or establishments.

The Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation and Unity Carlito Galvez, Jr. — also the designated Chief Implementer of the country’s declared national policy against COVID-19 — was directed to oversee the consolidation, management, inventory, recording and distribution of donations, and ensure the efficient and expeditious distribution of assistance to the public.

The Food and Drug Administration and all other agencies concerned with the certification and regulation of donated medicines, medical supplies and equipment and other health products are directed to adopt expedited procedures for their respective accreditation or clearance, in accordance with RA 11469.

with Francis T. Wakefield
@tribunephl_FTW

 

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