Shortage of medicines in government hospitals in Kerala

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A woman waiting to buy medicines at a hospital in Ernakulam

Thiruvananthapuram: Government hospitals in the state are facing a shortage of medicines for health issues starting from fever and stomach-related ailments to lifestyle diseases and even cancer. Medical colleges and primary health centres are also facing this shortage.

Many primary health centres do not even have basic medicines like paracetamol and insulin used to treat sugar patients. Adrenaline shots used in ICUs during life-threatening emergencies are being brought by the relatives of the patients from outside. Kerala Medical Services Corporation (KMSCL) buys the medicines needed for government hospitals and medical colleges. This includes more than 700 medicines. Usually, extra medicine is bought for another five months even after the academic year ends. But this time there was a major folly in the calculation. With the slow halt in the cases of Covid, the number of patients visiting the hospitals have gone up directly resulting in a shortage of medicines.

The government stepped aside after instructing hospitals to utilise Rs 69 crores from the Karunya scheme. Usually, the tender procedures would be completed and the companies would deliver the medicines by April.

For the past two years, tenders are being invited in December. Though the health department justifies that the delay was due to Covid, this has also led to a shortage in medicines. The re-tender process has been initiated. The corporation explains that there is no shortage and only a delay in getting the medicines from depots to hospitals.

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