DOH requests purchase of P1.3 billion worth of ventilators

Sofia Tomacruz
There are currently 1,263 ventilators in hospitals across the country

TREATMENT. East Avenue Medical Center health workers, push a man suspected to have COVID-19 into an isolation tent for treatment on April 12, 2020. Photo by Darren Langit/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has requested for the purchase of P1.3 billion worth of ventilators needed in the treatment of severe cases of the coronavirus disease.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire announced in a press briefing on Monday, April 20, the health department submitted its request to the Department fo Budget and Management’s procurement services unit (PS-DBM).  

Vergeire, speaking in Filipino actually announced the amount of “P1.3 million” during the briefing. But when Rappler sought clarification, she said the amount was P1.3 billion. 

Ventilators, which are also known as breathing machines or respirators, are among the essential tools used by hospitals in treating patients whose lungs fail. 

Vergeire earlier said there were a total of 1,263 ventilators in hospitals across the country. The current stock, she said, was not enough.

Asked how many ventilators the P1.3 billion would cover, DOH said it was still finalizing estimates. 

Vergeire gave assurances the estimated cost was based on market studies to ensure the ventilators were competitive in price and cost-effective. (IN NUMBERS: What hospitals need to treat COVID-19 patients

The DOH’s assurances came after the agency had to defend its purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) worth P1.8 billion, saying it went through the mandated procurement process at the DBM and covered 8 types of PPE sets needed by health workers. Senators earlier questioned the cost for the PPE, citing lower prices. 

Vergeire also said the government was expecting the arrival of the following PPE this week:

  • 300,000 N95 masks
  • 271,100 gowns
  • 18,000 coveralls
  • 26,250 goggles 
  • 52,500 shoe covers
  • 52,500 aprons
  • 500 non-contact infrared thermometers 

Aside from these, some 1,300 coronavirus tests kits developed by the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health (UP-NIH) were scheduled to be distributed to several hospitals this week. The 1,300 test kits are capable of carrying out some 26,000 coronavirus tests. 

Among hospitals set to receive test kits are the UP Philippine General Hospital in Manila, Baguio General Hospital, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, Makati Medical Center, and The Medical City in Pasig. 

The Philippines has recorded 6,459 confirmed coronavirus cases as of Monday, including 428 deaths and 613 recoveries. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.