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Drug shortage in government hospitals: Bihar to provide 102 medicines free to patients

The state government has taken up big time purchase of drugs through the Bihar Medical Services Infrastructure Corporation Limited after it realised that patient footfall at government health facilities was fast dwindling in absence of medicines

india Updated: Nov 24, 2017 17:17 IST
Ruchir Kumar
The Bihar Medical Services Infrastructure Corporation Limited will supply 102 drugs to government hospitals by first week of December.
The Bihar Medical Services Infrastructure Corporation Limited will supply 102 drugs to government hospitals by first week of December.(Representative photo)

From having just 10-12 drugs in its inventory last year for supply to patients free of cost, the Bihar Medical Services Infrastructure Corporation Limited (BMSICL) is ready to provide government health facilities 102 drugs by December and another 181 early next year. 

The BMSICL, however, will still be short of 40 drugs and odd as against 320 molecular combinations of varying potency, prescribed under the state’s essential drug list. This also includes drugs taken up under the national health mission mode programme, like zinc and iron-folic tablets. 

The state government has taken up big time purchase of drugs through the BMSICL after it realised that patient footfall at government health facilities was fast dwindling in absence of medicines since the drug purchase scam in 2014-15.

As per government data, patient footfall in outdoor patients department of government health facilities across Bihar fell from 791.51 lakh in 2013-14 to 739.83 lakh in 2014-15 and to 693.28 lakh in 2015-16.

In its endeavor to streamline drug supplies, Bihar health minister Mangal Pandey reviewed the drug position at the BMSICL on Thursday. 

“We are ready to supply 102 drugs by first week of December. We are also doing technical evaluation of 181 other drugs, the tender applications of which were opened on November 7. We hope to supply them to our health facilities early next year. Some procedural formalities like quality testing of drugs at National Accreditation Board of Laboratories (NABL), site verification, etc. have to be completed before we supply the drugs,” BMSICL managing director Sanjay Kumar Singh told HT

The drug purchase scam had derailed supplies, severely affecting healthcare at government facilities. The BMSICL had purchased drugs over Rs 60 crore between January and August 2014. An internal inquiry by additional director, health, Dr KK Singh, had pointed out that medicines worth Rs 14.48 crore were purchased at higher rate in comparison to the rate fixed by the State Health Society (SHS), Bihar, for 2011-2014. He, however, did not take into consideration that the mode of supply at SHS (cash and carry) and BMSICL (credit facility) was different. The report also said that drugs worth Rs 19.60 crore had been taken from blacklisted firms in other states. 

Hamstrung by lack of drugs and consumables at government health facilities, doctors had been at the receiving end of patients and their attendants. Bihar’s premier tertiary care health institution – the Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH) — reported nearly 12 strikes by medicos since 2014. 

While PMCH medicos struck work twice each in 2014 and 2015, the frequency went up to six in 2016. They struck work for two days as recently as on November 16. The Junior Doctors Association (JDA) at the PMCH alleged that most of the strikes were because of near absence of drugs and consumables, testing the patience of attendants and doctors both.