Malfunction of 104 ventilators: No written agreement between Health Ministry, PLSB - PAC

30 Oct 2023 05:58pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. – FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. – FILE PIX

KUALA LUMPUR - As there was no written agreement between the Health Ministry (MOH) and Pharmaniaga Logistic Sdn Bhd (PLSB), neither party could be held accountable for the malfunction of 104 ventilators, said the Public Accounts Comittee (PAC).

The PAC said it was revealed that no contract was established between MOH and PLSB regarding the acquisition of ventilators, and MOH's legal advisor was not consulted when the PLSB appointment letter was being processed.

"The lack of a clear role for PLSB in this matter had also prevented the legal action process,” according the Covid-19 Pandemic Management Report: Vaccine Expiry, Non-Operational Ventilator Equipment, and Excess Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) issued by the PAC.

Additionally, the PAC found discrepancies in statements between MOH and PLSB regarding the existence of warranties for all 136 ventilator units.

"PLSB did not sign any contract with suppliers and informed PAC that all purchase order documents and quotation documents showed that the ventilator warranties were between the Malaysian Government and the suppliers.

"PLSB only managed the delivery of ventilators to the MOH facilities and assisted the ministry in contacting manufacturers for the non-operational ventilator warranties. MOH stated that there were no warranties during the purchase of ventilators by PLSB.

"Warranties were only provided by PLSB for upgraded ventilators after the Emergency Procurement Price Negotiation Meeting was held on Sept 1, 2020," read the report.

The 120-page report also revealed that discussions, assessments, and decisions related to the ventilator acquisition had to be conducted through WhatsApp due to constraints during the Movement Control Order (MCO) and the urgency and pressure of the situation at the time.

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The report stated that due to the extraordinary situation the world faced at that time, emergency procurement had to be conducted to obtain supplies of vaccines, ventilators, PPE, and other equipment to address the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"At that time, the world was facing a shortage of medical equipment supplies, causing a scramble. Failure to make immediate decisions would deny the country the opportunity to obtain supplies and result in loss of lives,” according to the report.

The PAC also disclosed that a total of 8.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines worth RM505 million had expired as of June 1, 2023.

According to the report, vaccine procurement by MOH was based on the vaccine requirement estimate, but an excess of vaccines occurred due to decreased demand for vaccination, delays in vaccine supply and the receipt of vaccine donations from foreign countries.

Meanwhile, most of the PPE will be usable before their expiry date, although there is a risk of excess stock of 850,000 boot cover units due to expire at the end of 2024, valued at RM927,000 if they cannot be used.

"The significant excess of boot covers and protective suits/coveralls was due to a review of PPE usage guidelines in line with the developments and scientific findings on Covid-19 management by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

For the purpose of improvement, PAC recommends that even in emergency situations, documentation should be carried out diligently.

The committee also recommended that the MOH immediately review the warranty status for all 136 ventilator equipment units and ensure appropriate action is taken against those responsible, as well as seeing that the excess PPEs are utilised before the expiry date.

"In addition, the government should play a role in ensuring that the local industry is capable of producing medical equipment and pharmaceuticals to avoid dependence on foreign countries in strengthening the public healthcare system," according to the report.

The full report is now accessible to the public on the PAC's website from today via the link - BERNAMA