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Medicine scarcity in Punjab hospitals

Paracetamol, drugs to treat blood pressure, diabetes unavailable

Medicine scarcity in Punjab hospitals

Patients outside a medical store at the Civil Hospital, Bathinda. file



Tribune News Service

Vishav Bharti

Chandigarh, May 4

The AAP government’s claims of revamping the state’s healthcare facilities seem to have fallen flat as health facilities have been facing an acute shortage of medicines for the past several weeks. Sources say the government hospitals lack basic medicines such as paracetamol and painkillers and those needed to treat blood pressure, diabetes and acidity.

The government supplies more than 300 medicines to hospitals, which are then dispensed free of cost to patients. This seems to be on paper as healthcare facilities in certain districts are short on medicines even for indoor patients.

Recently, a health official in Fazilka was seen in photos that had gone viral tearing Fateh Covid kits to get strips of paracetamol. Syringes, too, are in short supply.

The sources say of the 235 medicines on the ‘Essential Drug List’, the department does not have “rate contracts” for a large number of medicines and many of them are not available in hospitals. “Rate contract” is the first step in the process of procuring medicines. The crisis of medicine shortage also extends to de-addiction drug Bupernnorphine. To tide over the crunch, de-addiction centres and Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) clinics dispense Bupernnorphine in small quantities. This means patients have to make multiple visits to clinics in a week. A hassle, patients stop the treatment, say experts.

Punjab Minister for Health and Family Welfare Vijay Singla and Secretary (Health) Ajoy Sharma could not be contacted in spite of repeated attempts. The situation is learnt to be no different in rural dispensaries.

A delegation of rural medical officers had recently given a representation to Singla for Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Kuldeep Dhaliwal and apprised him of the shortage of medicines in rural dispensaries. The minister pulled up the officials and ordered them to supply the medicines immediately.

Not in pink of health

  • The government supplies to hospitals more than 300 medicines that are dispensed free of cost to patients
  • This seems to be only on paper now as healthcare facilities in certain districts are short on medicines even for indoor patients

Securing supplies

There has been an acute shortage of medicines for two months. We have been told the government is in the process of procuring the drugs. — Civil Surgeon in Malwa

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