PETALING JAYA: The Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) report on the country’s Covid-19 management revealed that the 8.5 million expired vaccine doses had cost RM505 million.
“Although the shelf life of the vaccines had been extended up to 18 months from the production date, 8.5 million vaccine doses costing RM505 million still expired as of June 1, 2023,” the report said.
The report, which was published on the Parliament website today, stated that the health ministry had procured the vaccines based on projected demand.
However, there was still an excess of vaccines due to “decreased vaccination demand, delays in receiving vaccine supplies and donations from foreign countries”.
The committee also found that the deliberations, assessments and decisions for the procurement of ventilators were conducted using WhatsApp instead of standard procedures due to lockdown constraints and the urgency at that time.
It said even though Pharmaniaga Logistic Sdn Bhd lacked experience and expertise in procuring medical equipment such as ventilators, the firm was instructed to make an upfront payment for the ventilators due to its “existing relationship with the health ministry”.
“The absence of a written agreement between the ministry and Pharmaniaga Logistics has resulted in a lack of accountability regarding the non-functioning 104 ventilator units.
“To date, the uncertainty surrounding the company’s role in this matter has hindered the legal action process from being carried out,” it added.
The committee also found discrepancies in the information provided by the health ministry and Pharmaniaga Logistics on the warranties for 136 ventilator units.
“A review of the tender documents submitted by the company to the PAC revealed that warranties were indicated by the supplier.”
However, the PAC discovered that these tender documents did not cover all 136 ventilator units and that there was an insufficient number of acknowledgment receipts.
Previously, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii called for the government to take action against those responsible for the purchase of 93 defective ventilators that cost the government RM13 million.
He said the negligence of those involved in the procurement had not only wasted public funds but compromised the quality of healthcare.
The report added that due to the extraordinary global situation at the time, emergency procurement measures were put into place to secure the supply of vaccines, ventilators, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other equipment needed to combat the spread of the virus.
“At that moment, the world was grappling with a crisis of medical equipment shortages, leading to fierce competition to acquire these medical supplies.
“Failure to make swift decisions would have denied countries the opportunity to obtain essential supplies and, ultimately, resulted in loss of lives,” the PAC said in its report.
Its report also revealed that a majority of the PPE procured could still be used before their expiration date. It said 850,000 units of boot covers, costing RM927,000, were set to expire by the end of 2024.
The committee recommended that government procurement officials ensure public interest is safeguarded during emergencies and that proper documentation is diligently carried out.
It also urged the health ministry to immediately review the warranty on all the 136 ventilator units and take appropriate action against those responsible.
The ministry must also ensure the excess PPEs are used up before they expire.
“The government must ensure the local industry is capable of producing medical equipment and pharmaceuticals to reduce dependency on foreign nations and strengthen the public healthcare system.”