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Short on basic drugs, Karnataka government asks hospitals to procure 44 essential drugs locally

However, because of insufficient funds, hospitals are finding it hard to procure them

September 24, 2022 08:51 pm | Updated 08:55 pm IST - Bengaluru

There has been an irregular/short supply of basic drugs in all government hospitals for the last two years and hospital authorities are unable to get supplies even after repeated indenting.

There has been an irregular/short supply of basic drugs in all government hospitals for the last two years and hospital authorities are unable to get supplies even after repeated indenting. | Photo Credit: file photo

Government hospitals in the State continue to face an acute shortage of basic drugs, including paracetamol, sterile disposable IV cannulas, normal saline, and even insulin syringes.

In fact, the Health Department has officially admitted that there is no supply of basic drugs and has written to all hospitals to procure 44 essential drugs locally for the next two months.

However, several hospitals, especially taluk hospitals and primary health centres (PHCs) are finding it hard to procure these drugs locally due to insufficient funds. As a result, prescriptions are written out for patients to buy from outside.

For two years

Sources said there has been an irregular/short supply of basic drugs in all government hospitals for the last two years and hospital authorities are unable to get supplies even after repeated indenting.

All essential medical supplies, including suture and bandage material, catheter, gloves, Ringer Lactate injection, sterile disposable umbilical cord clamp, syringe with hypodermic needle, IV cannulas and insulin syringe apart from many basic drugs are in short supply.

“The daily patient flow has come back to the pre-COVID level. But we do not have the required drugs and are facing the wrath of patients when we write out prescriptions for them to buy from outside,” said a senior doctor from a district hospital.

Tendering process

The Health Department’s letter dated September 14 stated that of the 445 drugs indented by government health facilities, the Karnataka State Medical Supplies Corporation Ltd. (KSMSCL) has completed the tendering process of 210 drugs and the supply has begun.

“For the remaining 235 drugs, the tendering process is at various stages and it will take another 60 days for the supply to begin. In the wake of this, hospitals have been directed to procure 44 essential basic drugs locally for the next two months with Arogya Raksha Samithi (ARS), Ayushman Bharat - Arogya Karnataka (AB-ArK) and National Free Drugs Service (NFDS) funds,” the letter stated.

However, sources said the available funds are not sufficient to procure the drugs. “With a patient flow of over 1,500 daily and over 350 in-patients at any given time, the available funds are not enough to meet the drug requirement even for a fortnight in a hospital,” sources said.

Poor response to tenders

State Health Commissioner Randeep D. attributed the problem to poor response to the tenders floated by KSMSCL. “Funds should not be a problem as apart from ARS and NFDS funds, we have released a total of Rs 240 crore to hospitals in the last six months. All these funds can be used entirely for drug procurement,” he said.

Asserting that drug supply should stabilise by October end, the Commissioner said re-tendering had to be done for 162 drugs as there was a single bidder who had quoted very high. “For 73 of these 162, re-tendering has been done for the third time. Besides, supply through one prominent supplier had to be stopped as the company was blacklisted in a few other States. Subsequently, the company has been removed from the blacklist and supplies will resume soon,” the Commissioner explained.

Tendering for next year

To avoid problems for the coming year, the KSMSCL has already started the tender process for 26 drugs of NHM health programmes (such as National Vector-Borne Disease Control Programme, SHUCHI, Comprehensive Primary Health Care and Maternal Health) for 2022-2023 at a total cost of ₹ 56.11 crore. Technical evaluation is under process for some drugs, State Health Commissioner Randeep D. said.

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