DHSK fails to finalize rate contract with JKMSCL
Hospitals across Kashmir including central Anti-Rabies Clinic (ARC) at SMHS are facing shortage of anti-rabies vaccines (ARVs)— causing additional burden to patient care in the region.
A senior official at Directorate of Health Services Kashmir (DHSK) told Rising Kashmir that they have not supplied ARVs—used to prevent vulnerable patients from infection of rabies virus—from the past six months to hospitals taking a toll on patients care. The official said they are yet to finalize the yearly rate contract with Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Limited (JKMSCL) to supply the medicines to hundreds of health institutions.
“We have written to the directorate a number of times but there has been no response from them. They are not serious about the issue. This is a problem all over the country,” said the official.
Shortage of vaccine in hospitals creates difficulties for dog bite victims who are left with no option but to buy the drugs from private medical stores at high rates.
The lack of ARVs has affected patient care in around 600 hospitals of the health department—where there is no stock of ARVs—making dog bite victims susceptible to various other illnesses. Although some hospital administrators procure drugs under hospital development fund (HDF) while majority of them are not able to give to patients.
Two days ago, around 20 people were attacked by stray dogs in Baramulla. Few victims were given ARVs while rest of them had to bring the vaccine from private clinics on exorbirant prices.
“There is a constant shortage of ARCs in SDH Barmmula. This is very unfortunate to see shortage of such drugs which are very important in a hospital like this as it caters to the huge population,” said Faheem Ahmad, a Baramulla resident.
Controller Stores, DHSK, Dr. Nishat Shaheen said that they have not supped the ARVs to the hospital from the past six months as they have no rate contract with JKMSCL.
“We are working on it. We have also conveyed the higher authorities. We are going to invite tenders very soon. Within two weeks the drugs will be made available to the hospitals,” she said. Shaheen said in case of emergencies hospitals are making available the medicines by local purchase.
The centrally located Anti Rabies Clinic (ARC) at SMHS Hospital in Government Medical College Srinagar (GMC) which caters to 70 per cent of dog bite victims in Kashmir also faces shortage of ARVs.
Official records suggest, on an average, the clinic receives 25 -39 dog bite cases but patients have to bring the vaccines from private pharmacies taking an additional financial burden on them.
Ghulam Rasool, a patient from Srinagar said at the ARC, that the injection costs around Rs 500 in the market and many patients don’t afford it.
“Some patients, with lower exposure, also need the injection as dogs are the most common reservoir of the virus, with more deaths caused by dog-mediated rabies. The government has failed to ensure availability of vaccines,” he said.
This year the only ARC has not received any supply of ARVs from JKMSCL despite receiving repeated notices from GMC authorities leaving patients to suffer.
Head Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (SPM), GMC, Dr Saleem Khan, said they invited tenders for the same three times but they got poor response.
“Due to non-availability of drugs we take medicines from other hospitals like Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial Hospital (JLNM) hospital, Rainawari and other institutions of DHSK,” he said.
Khan, however, said they have written to the Administrative Department to seek permission to issue only one-time tender to get the issue solved. “We expect their reply within one week.”
General Manager (K), procurement supply, JKMSCL, Dr Mohammad Iqbal Sofi said this is the issue throughout India as nobody is participating in the tendering process.
“Hospitals here need anti-rabies medicines more than expected. There are two firms in India which manufacture such drugs but their production capacity is less than the requirement,” he said.
Sofi said if one participates in the tendering process and is not able to procure the medicines, the firm gets blacklisted.
“Once they are blacklisted they won’t be given chance to participate in the tendering process so they prefer not to participate. We ask hospital administrators to procure it themselves,” he said.
According to sources, the matter was taken up with the government a number of times but there has been no breakthrough so far leaving dog bite victims especially at peripheries to suffer.