Town’s health zone posed fund loss risk, COA says

By: Gerome Dalipe

ANOTHER pharmacy right next to the district hospital pharmacy in Cabatuan, Iloilo?

Definitely illegal for lack of authority from the Iloilo Provincial Government to operate similar entity that competes with the existing hospital pharmacy, the state auditors ruled.

Thus, the Commission on Audit (COA) ordered the operations of an “inter-local health zone” named Ramon Tabiana, Cabatuan, Maasin, Pavia, Sta. Barbara (RCAMPS).

“Otherwise, this kind of arrangement may put the government to disadvantage, while enriching the other party,” read COA’s annual report on Iloilo Province’s 2018 financial transactions.

The health zone operates as a pharmacy within the hospital pharmacy of the Ramon Tabiana Memorial District Hospital, the auditors discovered.

But verification by state auditors of the memorandum of agreement entered into between the local health zone and the Department of Health-Center for Health Development Western Visayas showed otherwise.

Both the Capitol and the district hospital are not even parties to the memorandum or allowed the operations of the health zone.

Likewise, the auditors said that nothing in the agreement requires the district hospital to provide space for the health zone for its operations.

The hospital chief allowed the operation of the health zone within the district hospital’s pharmacy area without authority or approval from the governor.

Thus, such practice violated the provisions of the Local Government Code by depriving the hospital pharmacy of revenue from the sales of medicines.

The health zone also posed risk of public fund loss due to unauthorized substitution or transfer of inventories, and even theft, the auditors said.

The pharmacist told the state auditors the health zone has been “very helpful” in augmenting the insufficient supply of medicines.

That’s because of the influx of patients and delayed or lengthy procurement process of, the pharmacist lamented.

The hospital chief said he allowed the operations of the health zone since it was already there before he assumed office.

Nonetheless, the hospital chief said he ordered the health zone to remove all their inventories from the pharmacy and transfer their office outside of the premises.

Since the provincial hospital is one of the local economic enterprises of the Province, the auditors stressed that its operations are still under the control and supervision of the governor.

Thus, the hospital chief is expected to be aware of such regulation and verify the authority of the health zone, the auditors added.

“He cannot just wait for the order of the governor considering that the latter did not have personal knowledge of the hospital operations. The inaction of the chief of the hospital showed laxity of his duty,” read the COA report.

Apart from terminating the health zone’s operations, the auditors urged the Human Resources Office to conduct reorientation seminars on the functions and responsibilities of the hospital chiefs so they can efficiently and effectively carry out their functions.