Internal resistance affecting the corporation’s performance
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Thiruvananthapuram: Heavy shortage of drugs, including essential antibiotics and intravenous fluids, is being reported from taluk hospitals and community health centres, even as newly-formed Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd. (KMSCL) is struggling to streamline its functioning.
Department officials have termed the current shortage of drugs as a temporary phenomenon which can be resolved once the KMSCL puts its house in order and the drug supply system is in place.
However, the fact remains that healthcare institutions in the peripheries are currently struggling to manage their daily drug requirements and are unable to make even local purchases in the absence of no-availability certificates from KMSCL. There are reports that the Health Department too is hard up for drugs to be distributed at its medical camps.
Meanwhile, officials point out that stiff resistance put up by a section of pharmacists in the department, allegedly to thwart the new drug purchase and distribution system, has been making matters difficult for the smooth functioning of KMSCL.
KMSCL is the new company that has been set up by the government for the purchase and supply of drugs to all government healthcare institutions in place of the old Central Purchase Committee (CPC) system. The company purchases drugs directly from manufacturers through the tender system. It has already placed indents with various companies for this year’s purchase of drugs and the supply process is on.
As part of shifting to the new system, the District Medical Stores (DMS) in all districts, which were responsible for the storage and distribution of drugs to all government hospitals in the districts, were taken over by KMSCL on April 1.
KMSCL has put in place a new computerised system for the entire State, with all institutions linked to the system. DMSs became KMSCL’s warehouses and the drug distribution system is to be directly monitored and supervised by KMSCL.
The staff in DMSs were to be re-deployed and the corporation declared that it would have new pharmacists on deputation from the Health Department itself. The rest of the staffs were to be hired on contract basis.
However, KMSCL has been finding it difficult to get new staff with the pharmacists in the department refusing to go on deputation to the Corporation. Also, the work handled by KMSCL is quite different from a pharmacists’ job and the lack of experience of new hands has been creating some difficulties.
“There are a lot of complaints from the periphery over the non-availability of essential medicines. Even in the medical college, for the past one month, medicines are being made available through local purchase. But the KMSCL is a new system and some teething troubles are to be expected,” a senior official in the Health Department said.