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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014

Huge shortage of critical medical equipment in defence hospitals: CAG

Sanjib Kr Baruah, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, December 15, 2012
First Published: 18:30 IST(15/12/2012) | Last Updated: 18:31 IST(15/12/2012)

In an apparent sign of the sad state of affairs in hospitals run by the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS), the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has come down heavily on the huge shortage of critical medical equipment.

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“As of December 2010, there was deficiency of at least 22,108 equipment in different hospitals, with reference to the authorised scales, for which no procurement was made to make up for the projected deficiencies,” the CAG said it its latest report.

The deficient items included ECG machines, cardiac medical instruments, DC defibrillator, nebulisers, ultrasound units, etc.

Hinting at large scale ‘anomalies’ the CAG pointed out at the “huge price variations in local procurements of drugs across various hospitals ranging upto even 100 times.”

The implication is that either locally procured drugs were being supplied at exorbitant prices or drugs were being supplied at freakishly low prices, calling into question their quality.

Another significant observation of the national auditor is that during 2006 to 2011, the allotment of funds for local purchase (LP) of drugs increased significantly from Rs. 158 crore to Rs. 371 crore, an increase of 135%, against a marginal increase (11%) in the allotment for central purchase (CP).

“As LP is intended to meet requirements of ad hoc and urgent nature, the major shift in the trend of allocating budget in favour of LP was contrary to the obvious advantages of centralised procurement in terms of quality and cost,” the report said.

The report also highlighted that there was an overall shortage of 12% medical officers in the hospitals besides a shortage of 298 specialist doctors against the authorised strength of 2217 such doctors.

A critical logistics arms of the defence services both in war and in peace, AFMS in an inter services organization for the Army, navy and the air force mandated with overseeing the functioning of hospitals of the respective services. It has 133 military hospitals (Army-111, Navy-10 & Air Force-12) under it in addition to 90 field hospitals in the field areas.

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