IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: NAMFREL
YEARS: 2008 – 2010
GRANT AMOUNT: $23,296
Since 2004 there has been a partnership between the Department of Health (DOH) and NAMFREL with a focus on the procurement, distribution and inventory management of medicines. In 2005 NAMFREL joined the Integrity Development Committee (IDC), DOH’s anti-corruption unit, and NAMFREL volunteers also became members of the regional IDCs of DOH. In a further development in 2006 the partnership was expanded to cover hospital equipment and infrastructure. Recently DOH invited NAMFREL to join their Inspection and Acceptance Committee that ensures that deliveries are consistent with orders placed.
The project was conceived as a pilot to test whether NAMFREL’s extensive network of over 100 local chapters could be used to mobilize citizen in support of a more transparent and efficient system of procuring and stocking medicines in 8 hospitals and 3 Centers for Health Development (CHDs). The project aimed to engage and encourage communities to monitor the delivery of health services and to institutionalize such community monitoring.
NAMFREL used its local chapters as the kernel for engaging local communities in the areas where the 8 hospitals and 3 CHDs were located. Engaging the local communities in this manner was generally successfully accomplished for the 8 hospitals but, for various reasons, not for the 3 CHDs as the schedules of the volunteers made it impossible to combine this with their regular jobs. There were also instances that communications from CHDs to volunteers arrived too late.
Significant challenges were encountered related to the reluctance of some of the hospitals to accept observers and, more generally, the rather passive attitude of DOH towards the project. Project activities were ‘tolerated’ rather than welcomed. Another set of challenges relates to motivating the volunteer observers on a sustained basis and to find the financial means to compensate them for their transport and other cost.
The ultimate measure of the project’s success would be a decline in corruption in the procurement and stock management of medicines. The pilot project has not generated data to establish whether such a reduction did take place although there is anecdotal evidence that the presence of observers has acted as a deterrent to corrupt practices.