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DoH investigates anomalous flu test equipment

Posted on: November 9, 2009

DoH investigates anomalous flu test equipment

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:04:00 11/09/2009

Filed Under: Health, Government offices & agencies

MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Health (DoH) disclosed that the allegedly anomalous flu-testing machine deal exposed by a labor group this weekend is already being investigated by the agency since August.

Health secretary Francisco Duque III said the agency’s Integrity Development Committee (IDC) is investigating all officials and personnel of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), including its director Dr. Remigio Olveda, who were involved in the procurement of the said flu-testing machines.

Flu-testing machines are used by the RITM and three other laboratories to confirm suspected A(H1N1) or swine flu cases.

“The DoH has already started its investigation as early as August when the Filipino-owned firm Macare complained about it. It is now being investigated by IDC,” Duque said.

“Because it has autonomy to transact financially, RITM and its officials went on with this business deal all by themselves. With the DoH-IDC on board investigating them now, I am positive that we will soon know all the details behind this,” Duque said.

Duque said that if found guilty, RITM officials will face suspension, dismissal or whatever forms of punishment the IDC deems fit.

Dr. Carol Taiño, IDC head, told INQUIRER.net , that the probe involves the procurement six units of flu-testing machines via a negotiated bidding.

The contract was awarded to Roche Philippines that offer to provide four flu-testing machines for P2.9 million but later downgraded its bid to P2.39 million; and Macare that tendered a bid of P2.4 million for two machines, she said.

Two weeks after the purchase order was received by the providers, the flu-testing machines were delivered to RITM, said Rey Calzado, who led the IDC fact-finding and investigation team.

“We are collating all documents and facts during this initial investigation and we aim to have this case resolved by December. As of today (Tuesday), we have received the reply of RITM on the case and we await the statements of the two bidders,” said Calzado.

Calzado said Macare made a complaint before the DoH IDC early on August citing overpricing and being a 100 percent foreign-owned firm as a reason to disqualify Roche Philippines for the award.

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