As there are already many challenges in the Sindh province, another one is looming as many major government hospital across Sindh are running their operations without medicines. According to sources, the concerned authorities delayed the procurement plan initially and then they were unable to supply the necessary medicines to healthcare facilities at the right time as hundreds of thousands of patients are now forced to buy the prescribed medicines from private stores.
The shortage of medicines also challenges the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) which had built its 2018 general election’s campaign over its reforms in the healthcare system across the province and won with majority votes in Sindh. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had said during his speeches at the rallies in different parts of the country that the health facilities in Sindh are the best from the rest of Pakistan. However, the fact is that poor patients are forced to buy expensive medicines and spend exceptionally more at public hospitals for their healthcare.
“The Sindh government hospitals across the province right now are running their operations without medicines and in some cases several health facilities have formally informed the authorities about their inability to operate even their emergency units in such a situation,” said a senior health professional citing the gravity of the situation. “For instance, three major hospitals in Karachi — the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC), the Dr Ruth Pfau Civil Hospital and the National Institute of Child Health (NICH) — have no medicines for their patients and they have been advised very clearly to purchase medicines privately from medical stores. Among such hospitals are the two hospitals [JPMC and Civil Hospital], which take care of thousands of patients every day with each having around 2,000-bed capacity. So you can well imagine the situation in other hospitals of Karachi, other Sindh cities and rural districts.”Source: Dawn
On the other hand, the authorities are well aware of the crisis but give different reasons for the current situation. The authorities seem confident that once the causes are addressed, it would not take more than a week to meet the demands of supplies of hospitals across Sindh.
“The issue of unavailability of medicines in hospitals is due to the stay order by courts and we understand that it was a huge issue for hospital management and the patients as there was a shortage of available medication in government hospitals,” Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Sindh minister for health and population welfare, said while replying to Dawn’s queries. “The central procurement committee had procured all the necessary antibiotics needed by the hospitals and the health department had made sure that all hospitals had these available for patients. As for the remaining medicines, they have been procured by the central procurement committee and will be supplied this week.”Source: Dawn
The management of various public hospitals and people associated with the operation, drug supplies company and interacting with government agencies, however, blame the sluggish start of the procurement process and then the committee’s lethargic approach to the job.
“This procurement process of medicines and medical supplies should have begun in March 2019, but too much [time] was wasted and it actually kicked off in June-July,” said a source privy to the details of the causes behind the recent crisis. “Once the launch is delayed then, we all know, it ultimately slows down the whole process. Once the procurements of a few items are finalised, then some pharmaceuticals come up with complaints before the redress committee which puts a stop to the supplies to hospitals till the grievances are heard. So, there is a need to bring more reforms in the process. This exercise is meant to benefit people but unfortunately it’s working the other way.”Source: Dawn