Punjab introduces e-Aushadhi to bring transparency in purchase of drugs
The move follows reports of significant discrepancies in stock and allegations of corruption in the purchase process in the health department on the pretext of ‘emergency purchases’.punjab Updated: Dec 05, 2017 10:33 IST
To introduce transparency in the process of purchase and distribution of drugs in the state’s health department, a new software, ‘e-Aushadhi’ has been installed across stores set up at the civil surgeon’s office in each district.
The move follows reports of significant discrepancies in stock and allegations of corruption in the purchase process in the health department on the pretext of ‘emergency purchases’.
The National Health Mission (NHM) had made the software mandatory for all states as it integrates the supply chain process.
However, the implementation of the system was delayed in Punjab due to many hiccups — the main being the non-availability of space for setting up drug stores at the district level.
When the software was sought to be introduced in the last week of October this year, Punjab had only three drug stores — in Mohali, Bathinda and Verka in Amritsar.
It has been introduced now, after a delay of two months, as having a drug store at each district civil surgeon’s office was mandatory for the introduction of the software. This has been done now.
Previously, all districts procured their supply of medicines from the three centres by raising demand and getting supply within their permissible financial limit.
“This software will keep track of all drugs, right from the time when the manufacturer delivers stocks to the warehouses at the district level to the supply at the dispensary level,” claimed Varun Roojam, director, National Health Mission.
He added, “Using this system, we will have complete online surveillance on purchase and distribution of drugs, sutures and surgical items. We will know its route from warehouse to district hospitals to the city health centres, the primary health centres and finally to the patient, the final consumer in the supply chain.”
How will this help
Sources in the department claimed that the biggest use of the software will be the check it will impose on buying of drugs that civil surgeons make in the name of ‘emergency purchases’.Under the rules, if a district health administration faces shortage of medicines, civil surgeons have been empowered to purchase these from private players in the district; such purchase, however, is limited to 10% of the total budget for that district.
Yet, there have been media reports and exposes on how, a few civil surgeons, have milked the system to make purchases in crores without keeping other authorities and their authorities in the loop. In several districts, such ‘extra purchases’ are the subject matter of probe.
“Now, no purchase will be done at any level after bypassing the software. Anybody from the department associated with the purchase, with a single click, can keep a tab on the distribution and the purchase. The software will keep a record, even if a single tablet is shifted from one drug store to another,” claimed Roojam.