Several medicines and drugs that were purchased and stored in state-run hospitals and rural health centres to treat regular patients are now lying unutilized and are nearing their expiry dates. The reason being because of the lockdown hardly any patients are turning up for treatment in hospitals.
District hospitals have alerted the state health department that unless these drugs are utilized they could expire and this would lead to loss of government property.
“Due to the lockdown for prevention of Covid-19 cases, general patient flow of different disciplines decreased remarkably. For this reason the outflow of the following medicines has decreased. At present the following medicines are lying in the store as slow moving items which may not be consumed within their potency period,” said a letter sent by the Asansol district hospital in West Burdwan.
The list includes ampules, vials, tablets and tubes of various kinds of injections, drops and lotions needed to treat patients suffering from cardiac arrest, malaria, labour pain and peptic ulcers. There are also antibiotics, anesthesia and eye-drops. The stock of some drugs like dobutamine and dobramycin are supposed to expire in June 2020.
In another letter, accessed by HT, the superintendent of the state-run Gangarampur subvisional hospital in South Dinajpur district has alerted this could lead to loss of government property.
“Will be highly obliged if you take necessary action so that the medicines can be utilized to avoid loss of government property,” the letter sent on April 27 stated.
Similarly, several medicines at the Habra state general hospital in North 24 Parganas are also nearing their expiry dates, a letter accessed by HT said.
Chandrima Bhattacharya, minister of state for health in West Bengal, said: “I am not aware. Please contact the health department.” Senior officials of the department, however, remained tightlipped and said only the minister can comment.
Meanwhile, with allegations surfacing that there is a shortage of PPE kits, masks and gloves as a result of which several doctors and other frontline medical staff have been infected with the virus, the state government has started procuring such items from the small and medium scale industries. A committee has also been formed to speed up the procurement.
The state has ordered around 16.5 lakh PPEs out of which till May 12 it has received 7.4 lakh. Another 9 lakh is pending. Around 32.5 lakh masks (N95 and FFP2) have been ordered out of which only around 3.6 lakh have been received till date.
“Usually it is the West Bengal Medical Services Corporation Limited which goes for bulk purchases of medicines and medical equipment. But because of the crisis a special committee has been formed to speed up the procurement process. A helpline has also been launched where frontline medical staff can place their demands,” said a senior official of the state health department.