Hospital administrators in Jammu and Kashmir are blaming the J&K Medical Supplies Corporation Limited (JKMSCL) for failing to provide it medicines, including emergency medicines. The acute shortage of emergency medicines has made these hospitals ill-equipped to save patients’ lives. Hundreds of patients, including those from the under privileged section, are forced to purchase drugs from the market, while the hospitals continue to engage with the Corporation in a bitter blame game.

Many attendants in the SMHS hospital of Srinagar and L.D. Hospital told this reporter that they don’t have the required money to purchase drugs that the officials in operation threatres have listed. Many local newspapers have reported about the acute shortage of medicines in government hospitals and it was under media pressure that state health minister Bali Baghat on Tuesday held a review meeting about the availability of medicines and other important diagnostic articles and equipment in the Government Medical College Hospital, Srinagar, and five other hospitals associated with it.

According to officials, the minister has asked the hospital authorities to purchase all the emergency medicines directly from the market from the allocated 25% funds in the annual budget. “Majority of the patients have purchased all the medicines from the market this year, while the funds allotted to the government hospitals to directly purchase these medicines are being misused,” said many attendants. The government has admitted that JKMSCL has not done timely procurement of medicines and the minister has asked them to streamline the process as soon as possible. 

Reports said that anesthesia drugs, antibiotic medicines, dressing material like cotton and adhesive plaster and even basic laboratory items like glassware and chemicals were not available in the government hospitals of Jammu.

In the major government-run hospitals of J&K, there is an acute shortage of drip set, blood bank kits and even normal saline. All patients and their attendants are told to purchase these items from the market. According to Health Department officials, Rs 2.36 crore was released for the GMC associated hospitals in Kashmir in April 2017 for meeting emergencies.

Doctors say that JKMSCL officials do not pay any heed to the requests being sent to them by the GMC Principal and other officials for the supply of drugs and other emergency medicine.  It is in place to mention that J&K government has announced provision of free drugs in the hospitals. When contacted, Principal, GMC Srinagar, Dr Saima Rashid, refused to comment on the acute shortage of medicines, but admitted that JKMSCL was not supplying the medicines on time. Principal GMCH, Jammu, Dr Sunanda said that they were purchasing some emergency medicines from the market.

Managing Director, JKMSCL, Dr Inderjeet Baghat refused to comment on the shortage of medicines in the hospitals and said that they have already intimated the government about the steps taken by them to streamline the supply to the government hospitals. The government has notified that 75% of the annual budget for the purchase of medicines would be transferred by both Medical Colleges of Srinagar and Jammu to JKMSCL.

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