The Department of Health (DoH) on Saturday assured the public that face shields of “good condition” were distributed among local health workers after a foreign firm admitted that it had tampered with the expiry dates of medical supplies sent to the country.
Speaking at a media conference, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said all of the government’s anti-coronavirus gears delivered to medical professionals have been inspected to ensure its quality.
“As far as the DoH is concerned, whatever we were able to deliver to all of our healthcare workers was in good condition. We do not accept damaged or discolored foams. We do not accept those. We do inspections also,” she sent to reporters.
While all medical-grade gears have shelf life since some of its parts may deteriorate, Vergeire said that expired face shields were not dangerous. On the other hand, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend using personal protective equipment beyond its manufacturer-designated shelf life.
“It has parts that can deteriorate over time — like foams for the foreheads. These foams can pulverize or discolor, which is part of a shelf life that we need to assess,” Vergeire said.
The DoH official also assured the public that the department has been investigating the alleged deficiencies in the said face shields.
She also appealed to the public to wait for the results of the investigation before jumping into conclusions.
The government’s procurement of medical supplies at the onset of the pandemic has been hounded by questions, particularly after senators found that the Procurement Service of the Department of Budget and Management had awarded a multi-billion peso contract with Pharmally Pharmaceutical Corp., then a six-month old company with only P625,000 in capital.
During a hearing by the Senate blue ribbon committee on Friday, Pharmally regulatory affairs head Krizle Mago made a stunning admission that the firm’s top executives had instructed her to tell warehouse staff to change the expiry dates of medical-grade face shields.
The warehouse staff, hired by Pharmally in August this year, were allegedly directed to remove the face shield’s stickers bearing the production dates of 2020 and to replace it with stickers with 2021 production dates.