Ministers argue over plan to buy quality medicines | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Ministers argue over plan to buy quality medicines

Health minister Suresh Shetty had a harrowing time during Tuesday’s weekly cabinet meeting because medical education minister, Dr Vijaykumar Gavit, opposed his idea of bringing transparency in the process of buying medicines for government hospitals.

mumbai Updated: Oct 27, 2010 02:02 IST
Dharmendra Jore

Health minister Suresh Shetty had a harrowing time during Tuesday’s weekly cabinet meeting because medical education minister, Dr Vijaykumar Gavit, opposed his idea of bringing transparency in the process of buying medicines for government hospitals.

Congressman Shetty’s department has been cracking down on malpractices such as the purchase of spurious and sub-standard medicines and equipment at division levels.

Shetty has now proposed to set up a high-level committee for procurement and quality control. E-tenders will be invited from reputed companies that can supply in bulk and help cut costs.

Gavit contested Shetty’s move when the latter explained that since the new system delayed procurement, some hospitals faced a shortage of drugs. This was after revenue minister

Narayan Rane’s complaint that some hospitals in Sindhudurg did not have enough medicines.
Gavit, a Nationalist Congress Party member, blamed Shetty for the delay. “When Shetty told Gavit to stop interfering in the issue, Gavit threw a tantrum and raised his voice,” a minister said requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

“Shetty told Gavit it was up to him to replicate the health department’s model in the medical education department, which also needs medicines and equipment.”

Gavit claimed that procurement committees had senior officials on it and he too had been sidelined. Shetty said a cartel of influential contractors and health officials was working against the state. Chief minister Ashok Chavan intervened and advised Shetty to bring in a foolproof medicine procurement policy.

In another incident, home minister RR Patil and Rane argued over the sand policy. Patil objected to restrictions on the role of village panchayats in approving mining proposals.

He said panchayat members would be held responsible for approving the contracts when local legislators and ministers played a bigger role in the process.