The Quezon City government has disclosed a plan to terminate its deal with Zuellig Pharma Corp., following technical woes with its eZConsult app.
Mayor Joy Belmonte said Wednesday she is seriously considering terminating the city’s contract with Zuellig after a series of total or partial technical difficulties experienced by its eZConsult service, preventing residents from signing up for COVID-19 vaccination.
“The reason why I got the services of eZConsult is to be able to fast track the process of listing but what can we do if the root of the problem is emanating from them. The sacrifices and efforts of our medical frontliners and the time and sanity of our residents are being compromised by this inefficient system,” Belmonte said.
“We have issued an ultimatum to Zuellig to upgrade their system and provide all the deliverables by this Friday, June 18 as agreed in a meeting held last week. If not, we have no other choice but to contract another company that can do the job quickly and efficiently,” she said.
Meanwhile, the city government on Wednesday launched its “QC Bakuna Nights” program to expand the reach of the city and immunize workers whose only free time is in the evening.
“Para ito sa mga manggagawa natin na hindi naman makaliban sa kanilang trabaho para makapagpabakuna sa karaniwang oras na 8 am-5 pm. Lalo na ‘yung mga arawan ang sahod,” Mayor Joy Belmonte said.
“Ngayon, hindi na nila kailangang mamili kung arawang kita ba muna o bakuna. We will inoculate them at a time most convenient to them,” she added.
About 2,000 pre-registered frontline personnel in essential sectors or those belonging to the A4 priority group had been inoculated at the Quezon City Hall Grounds.
Apart from the termination of contract with Zuellig, Belmonte plans to file for damages against the company if it fails to meet its contractual obligations to the local government by Friday, June 18.
“If the improvements promised to the city are not honored as is contained in the contract, we will initiate contract termination proceedings and file appropriate charges against them as deemed appropriate by our city legal counsel to enforce and protect our rights and the interests of QCitizens,” she warned.
Belmonte said: “They committed a seamless service, but they failed repeatedly. Our QCitizens deserve nothing but the best service. We have already improved our system in vaccination centers where people no longer have to fall in line and go through the entire vaccination process within a maximum of 45 minutes.”
The mayor noted that queueing for a coronavirus vaccine in the city should be virtual through the app, but even that is missing.
“Dapat kahit virtual pila wala din sa QC as long as vaccine supply is stable. Yet eZconsult is putting all our efforts down the drain,” she added.
According to Belmonte, eZConsult suffered various technical difficulties as early as March 27, thus preventing the city government from providing vaccines to its residents in a quick and timely manner.
City Attorney Orlando Casimiro already wrote Zuellig on eZConsult’s technical failures.
In his demand letter, Casimiro cited that under the terms of reference of their agreement, Zuellig has the obligation to make available information technology services, such as registration, pre-assessment, booking and scheduling of vaccination at the patient level through digital forms.
“Failure to strictly comply with the terms of the contract shall constrain us to take all necessary legal action as may be appropriate, including both civil and criminal cases against Zuellig and its officers, for the full protection and enforcement of the Quezon City government’s rights and interests,” he stressed.
Zuellig has yet to react to the issue as of press time.
Last August, Zuellig Pharma launched eZConsult, a virtual care mobile app to address the growing need for teleconsultation amidst lockdowns and restricted movement during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Touting the app as co-created with doctors and patients, the firm said eZConsult “is a seamless solution that allows simple, secure and safe access to healthcare.” The app connects users with an extensive panel of healthcare professionals across different specialties, it said.
The firm also partners with key healthcare stakeholders such as retail pharmacies, laboratories, and fintech companies that can provide advice, support, and services to patients through the platform.