There's a shortage of certain life-saving antibiotic injections in Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) -run hospitals. BMC-run hospitals provide certain medicines, capsules and injections free. This practice has almost stopped since January this year.
Now, patients at hospitals like KEM, Nair and Sion have to buy ampoules worth up to Rs 1,000-2,000 themselves. The BMC prepares a list of medicines and equipment, called schedule, every year that are to be supplied free of cost. "A schedule is a list of drugs or equipment by medical experts to be procured by the BMC's health department. This schedule lasts for two years, after which lists are revised," said a senior doctor at a BMC-run hospital.
Of the 16 schedules listed by the BMC, up to four have expired since December last year. But fresh tenders are yet to be floated. Schedule 1, which lists life-saving injections, has expired since February this year. Tertiary care hospitals including KEM, Nair and Sion as well as 16 peripheral hospitals and maternity homes are facing a short supply of these injections.
With no new schedules, hospitals are procuring medicines under the emergency window, BMC's additional commissioner (health), Sanjay Deshmukh, said. Doctors have made it clear that this cannot go on forever. Certain vendors have also refused to supply medicines in the absence of tenders.
"We are falling short of certain life-saving antibiotic injections. At times, we have to ask patients' relatives to buy medicines from private chemists. While we procure injections on a timely basis, nurses in certain wards may run out of medicines. We cannot repeat the whole process of drawing up quotations and procurement every day. In the interim, patients are asked to manage on their own. Ampoules worth close to Rs 1,000-2,000 are asked to be bought by the patient when the hospital can easily provide for it, if tenders are floated on time," said a senior doctor from a BMC-run hospital.
Sion Hospital dean Dr Avinash Supe clarified that the expert list of renewed schedules of was submitted six months ago. "BMC has listed16 schedules of drugs, usually valid for two years. Before the validity ends, the procurement process is begun. Newer drugs are added in renewed schedules. In the lag period, some contractors have been supplying medicines in emergency but some others don't oblige. We have, from our side, in KEM, Nair and Sion hospitals, drawn up the list of schedules of drugs. We had submitted these lists to the BMC last year," explained Dr Supe.
Civic body corporators raked up muck in the BMC's standing committee meeting on July 16 about perennial shortage of prescription drugs and high end injections. Schedule 2 of 192 essential capsules and tablets expired in April this year. "Treatment in a hospital should be prescription-less. If procurement is not done on time by the BMC, how will medicines be made available? Poor patients are asked get medicines and the treatment starts after 2-3 hours," said Rais Shaikh, member of standing committee, BMC.
Items in short supply
Schedule Contents Expired
1 Life saving injections and vaccines February
2 192 essential capsules and tablets April
6 Diagnostic Kits for testing viruses including December
malaria and dengue