KATHMANDU, Feb 1: The stocks of up to 60 drug varieties and medical items at the government's regional drugs storages are currently nil. However, the government is yet to make the drugs purchases for this year. Last fiscal year, the Department of Public Health Services (DoPHS) procured drugs worth only Rs 490 million out of the Rs 1.10 billion allocated for the purpose.
Records at the Logistics Management Division (LMD) under DoPHS show that the stocks of 60 drugs and medical items are nil in the Eastern Development Region. The stocks of 50 such items in the Mid-Western Development Region, 42 items in the Western Development Region, 33 in the Far-Western and 22 in the Central Development Region are also nil .
Similarly, the stocks of 32 items in the Far-Western Development Region, eight items in the Western Development Region and four items in the Mid-Western Region number less than 10 pieces each while the stocks of 18 items in the Far-Western Region, 16 items in the Western , nine in the Mid-Western and three in the Eastern Region number less than 100 pieces .
The 60 items that are nil in stock include medicines such as ORS, antibiotics, medication for leprosy and tuberculosis, ointments (also creams and drops), IV Solution, oral solids (tablets and capsules), oral liquids (syrups/susp/sprays), and items such as cold chain accessories, syringes, surgicals and family planning items .
Govt purchased drugs worth only Rs 490 million out of Rs 1.10 billion allotted for the center last fiscal year. No purchases yet by the center in the current fiscal year that began mid-July
The government purchases 72 kinds of essential drugs and items for distribution free of cost through its health facilities. All the items unavailable at the regional stores are among these 72 essentials. According to the Primary Health Care Revitalization Division (PHCRD) under DoPHS, the government has allocated a total of Rs 1.5 billion in the current fiscal year for the purchase such essential medicines that are to be distributed free.
Out of the total amount, Rs 362.6 million (24.27 percent) is allocated for local bodies, Rs 19.5 million (1.03 percent) for upgraded hospitals, Rs 57.87 million (3.86 percent) for district health/public health offices, Rs 10 million (0.67 percent) for the five regional hospitals and Rs 1.05 billion (nearly 70 percent) for the center.
The government allocated Rs 1.49 billion for buying essential medicines last fiscal year while Rs 1.5 billion was allocated for the purpose the previous fiscal year.
"We allocate 30 percent of the budget meant for drug purchases to the regions (provinces) and districts. They buy the drugs as per their needs," said Bhogendra Raj Dotel, director at PHCRD. " LMD procures the medicines out of the 70 percent allocated for the center," he added. "We just release the budget to LMD."
The procurement of essential medicinal items in the current fiscal year was a delay due to frequent changes in government and national and local level elections, said Babu Ram Lamichhane, undersecretary at LMD. "We have begun the procurement process for 16 essential drugs this year and are going to procure another 16 essential drugs soon," he said. "We can supply the medicines to the government facilities only in April. Until then, the local and regional bodies should manage with the budgets allocated for them."