The NC Department of Health said that all steps were being taken to ensure that PPE orders and other items were procured strictly in line with the instructions issued by Treasury.
THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Health has stated that corrective measures have been put in place to regulate the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) following the release of the auditor-general’s draft special report on Covid-19 procurement of PPE on September 2.
Department of Health spokesperson Lebogang Majaha said on Thursday that consultations had taken place with the auditor-general and Provincial Treasury regarding the preliminary findings.
“As a result, the department has investigated possible lapses in internal controls and has initiated disciplinary processes to identify any wrongdoing. Formal PPE procurement processes have been strengthened to ensure compliance with procurement prescripts, including weekly compliance reporting to the senior management team on Covid-19 procurement,” said Majaha.
He added that when the state of national disaster was declared at short notice in March, the department urgently prepared plans in line with the national Covid-19 response plan.
“Shortly thereafter the National Treasury issued instructions surrounding the procurement of PPE during the national disaster.
“Like all health departments across the country, the department was faced with rising demand for PPE and diminishing stock levels. This was combined with increasing low levels of availability of these items in the market. Treasury issued instructions to allow departments to procure PPE from any supplier on predetermined conditions. These conditions included quality specifications, maximum price and supplier registration on the central supplier database.”
Majaha stated that during meetings held with the accounting officer, chief financial officer and supply chain management practitioners, it was detected that price deviations were required in order to obtain sufficient PPE of the correct quality and at the right time.
“Quotations were sourced from different service providers for the supply of PPE items. The service providers were further requested to supply the department with samples to verify the quality of the items quoted. These samples were evaluated by a quality team including health professionals mainly from Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital.”
He indicated that price negotiations were entered into by supply chain management to prevent exceeding the quoted prices.
“The price negotiations were quite protracted, where service providers highlighted constraints they experienced from wholesalers and manufacturers, as well as the demands from departments that already had contracts in place. This resulted in higher than expected prices for some items as compared to those in the instruction notes.”
Majaha explained that written approval was not obtained to deviate after prices were accepted that were higher than the prices contained in the instruction notes.
“In these cases the prices were, however, the lowest from the quotes submitted to the department. Specific written approval from the accounting officer to deviate from price was not obtained and this is now being corrected.
“When the PPE items were delivered by the service providers to the department stores, delivery notes were signed as received in good order from all but one supplier. This delivery is being audited to ensure that the correct order was actually received and the results will be submitted to the auditor-general.”
He added that all steps were being taken to ensure that PPE orders and other items were procured strictly in line with the instructions issued by Treasury.