No end in sight to drug shortage at govt hospitals in Kerala

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Thiruvananthapuram: Government hospitals in Kerala are reeling under a severe shortage of medicines. For instance, at Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, less than 65 per cent of the essential drugs and 25 per cent of anti-cancer medicines are available. At General Hospital, Thiruvananthapuram, antibiotics and insulin syringes are in short supply.

Alappuzha: Medicines prescribed for jaundice are unavailable at Medical College. Shortage of all drugs persists at Alappuzha General Hospital and Chengannur District Hospital. Sufficient stocks of asthma drugs are not available at Mavelikkara District Hospital.

Ernakulam: The General Hospital in Ernakulam is purchasing drugs worth Rs 3-4 lakh every month from outside sources to meet the shortfall. The District Hospital at Aluva is expected to run short of medicines anytime now.

Thrissur: The following stocks have been exhausted at Government Medical College: Insulin; Iron, Calcium and Folic Acid tablets and paracetamol syrup.

Palakkad: Medicines prescribed by specialist doctors are unavailable at government hospitals in the district.

Kozhikode: There is a shortage of drugs for hypertension, vitamins and various injections at Medical College and Beach General Hospital.

Kasaragod: The District Hospital at Kasaragod has sufficient stocks at present, but there would be a shortage when the medicines purchased with funds from the District Panchayat are exhausted.

Plea to minister
The KGMOA (Kerala Government Medical Officers Association) has submitted a memorandum to the Health Minister seeking urgent measures to solve the shortage of drugs in government hospitals which, it said, was causing much discontent among the people. Several drugs which were bought based on an indent issued during the previous financial year were used up as the number of patients increased this year, said the KGMOA.

Even though an additional indent of 25 per cent was sanctioned this financial year, essential drugs are not being supplied by KMSCL (Kerala Medical Services Corporation Limited), according to the memorandum. There are insufficient stocks at Karunya pharmacies also, it added.

A patient’s plight
The drug shortage is causing misery to poor patients such as Chandran Chamy of Thathamangalam who felt breathlessness while waiting for a bus to Thiruvananthapuram at Palakkad bus stand on Friday night. He was rushed to Palakkad District Hospital and the doctor prescribed a tablet worth a mere Rs 2.67, but it was out of stock in the hospital store. All the private medical shops were closed at night, and the tablet was finally obtained from the medical store at Palakkad Cooperative Hospital after a frantic search. 

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