-No iron tablets in Nuwakot, Tanahun, Achham, Baitadi
-Hospitals in Siraha, Bara, Dhanusha, Achham without antibiotics
KATHMANDU, Dec 12: Government hospitals and other health facilities in various districts are without several essential medicines although the government has a policy of providing over a hundred essential medicines to the general public free of cost.
Officials concerned blamed negligence and bureaucratic red tape for the situation.
Since the past five months, 14 districts are without paracetamol, five districts without iron pills, and four districts without antibiotics.
Paracitamols are out of stocks in Ilam, Taplejung, Dhanusha, Makawanpur, Rautahat, Baglung, Palpa, Tanahun, Banke, Dang, Rukum, Surkhet, Dadeldhura and Doti districts, according to the details provided by the Department of Health Services (DoHS) under the Ministry of Health.
Similarly, Nuwakot, Tanahun, Achham and Baitadi districts do not have any iron pills in stock. Likewise, Siraha, Bara, Dhanusha and Achham have run out of antibiotics, according to the DoHS.
There are altogether 3,991 public hospitals, primary health centers and health posts across the country. According to the ministry, 103 medicines under 72 categories of essential medicines including paracetamol, iron tablets, antibiotics, vitamins, albendazole and oral rehydration salts (ORS) among others are provided from public health institutions free of cost to the needy people.
However, people neither get the medicines free of cost nor the health service providers are supplied with the essential medicines, said officials at the MoH.
The ministry officials say that supplying the medicines is the responsibility of the DoHS. “We provide funds to the DoHS and it has to purchase the essential medicines and supply them to the local level,” said Bhogendra Raj Dotel, spokesman at MoH.
The government purchases medicines worth around Rs 800 million annually and distributes them in the districts. And Rs 390 million has been allocated this year for procuring and supplying essential medicines to all 75 districts, according to the DoHS.
Each district can buy medicines worth up to Rs 300,000 without bidding. This has been allowed to make smooth supply of essential medicines at the local level.
“We need to procure medicines worth Rs 800,000 for this year, and this has to be done through bidding. We are now in the process of selecting contractors,” said Buddhi Ram Kaphle, senior pharmacist at the DoHS.
Officials at the DoHS admitted that purchasing medicines through bidding process takes about nine months. “That is why we have given the authority to the districts to buy medicines worth up to Rs 300,000 without bidding,” said Dr Bhim Singh Tinkari, director of the Logistics Management Division at the DoHS. “We don't know why the districts are not buying essential medicines,” he added.
Meanwhile, a report from Jhapa district stated that people in the district are forced to buy essential medicines from private drugstores as the public health facilities in the district have run out of these medicines.
Officials said public hospitals and public health facilities are without essential medicines since the past three months. “This has affected the poor the most,” said Indra Hari Bhattarai, acting chief of Primary Health Center of Surunga at Kankai in Jhapa district.