Rural dispensaries in the state are ailing for want of funds and unable to buy free medicines for patients for more than five months now, with the state’s finance department not releasing the requisite funds to the rural development and panchayats ministry.
In October 2014, the chief minister had announced the release of `10.67 crore to the department for purchase of medicines. Five months on, there is no sign of the money with the finance department officials reportedly sitting on the file. Most dispensaries in received the last stock of medicines in January 2013 that was exhausted by December 2014. At a few places, medicines worth`1.92 crore were provided in November 2014, but the stock lasted only 10 days.
Even the Punjab Human Rights Commission and the Punjab and Haryana high court has pulled up the authorities. On March 2, the HC directed the health department and the rural development and panchayat department to file a detailed affidavit within two weeks on the supply of free medicines to rural dispensaries.
On February 26, the rural development department had shot off a missive to the principal secretary finance, Vini Mahajan, to look into the matter. Doctors are now spending money from their own pocket to give medicines to poor patients or have approached local NGOs for help.
When questioned on the non-release of grants, Mahajan said, “For rural dispensaries, you should talk to rural development and panchayat secretary.” A Venu Prasad, secretary rural panchayat, said they were yet to receive the funds.