Crisis in Kashmir hospitals

Kashmir Hospitals are facing acute shortage of emergency and life saving drugs and disposables, as no fresh provisions are being made by JK Medical Supplies Corporation Ltd (JKMSCL) while hospitals have been asked to desist from making any such purchases.
Crisis in Kashmir hospitals
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Kashmir Hospitals are facing acute shortage of emergency and life saving drugs and disposables, as no fresh provisions are being made by JK Medical Supplies Corporation Ltd (JKMSCL) while hospitals have been asked to desist from making any such purchases.

Rural hospitals as well as hospitals in city have exhausted emergency drugs and disposables. As per sources, disposables and consumables are 'almost over' in Intensive Care Units of city hospitals, making these ICUs practically on the verge of becoming defunct. 

A source at SMHS Hospital said that the hospital has 'very little' left of emergency materials and consumables. "If a person with a bullet injury or a victim of road traffic accident arrives at hospital, will we ask him to get cotton, gauze and life saving drugs from market first," he asked. 

At GB Pant Hospital and LD Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Units, reportedly, in addition to life saving drugs, ventilator piping has also exhausted. There are no gloves, gauze and cotton in hospitals, including the only Maternity Hospital in Srinagar, LD Hospital.

District and Sub-District Hospitals of Kashmir are also undergoing the same crisis situation as per reports received from doctors of these hospitals.

On Tuesday an emergency meeting was held at GMC Srinagar to 'brain storm' a way out of this situation. At the meeting, an insider said, many hospital superintendents threatened that they will go on leave to save themselves from the 'wrath of people'. "They (the hospital MSs) said that if they are not in a position to try to salvage life of a critically ill or a emergency patient, they will be 'lynched' by the mobs," he said.

The crisis reportedly has emanated from JK Medical Supplies Corporation failing to deliver as planned and promised by it. The corporation, when it was instituted, announced that it will start supplying drugs and consumables to state hospital from August 01, 2015. That deadline, as later confessed by managing Director JKMSCL, Dr. Yashpal Sharma, 'was not in coherence with the amount of work that is involved in the corporation'. However, beyond that deadline too, many other deadlines have been missed, the last one being March 1st, 2016.

Hospitals have not been allowed to make any purchases after January 31, 2016. A GMC official said that it is because of the purchases that had been made in the month of November last year, that supplies have lasted till now. "The previous Principal, Dr. Rafiq Ahmed Pampori had perhaps foreseen this and allowed us to utilize the budget of the last quarter. That liability could luckily be cleared with last quarter funds. But now, we are helpless," he said.

Since government has made it mandatory that all hospital purchases be routed through JKMSCL only and no hospital could purchase any medicine, drug or disposable on its own, all the funds have been diverted to the corporation only. Corporation, on its part, has been actively floating tenders for everything, including hospital furniture. A senior official in health department said that JKMSCL is not able to prioritize purchases. "They have asked us for list of furniture required. If there are no essential supplies, then coffins is the only 'furniture' we would require in hospitals," he said.

GMC said that it had taken up the issue with government and it was hopeful that it will tide over the situation. Principal GMC Srinagar, Dr. Kaiser Ahmed said that he was positive that hospitals would be allowed to make emergency purchases as per existing rate contracts. "We could be authorized to utilize more of our funds to buy what we need immediately, without any fail," he said adding that he was hopeful that government would address this issue on priority.

Dr. Yashpal Sharma was not available for comments as his PA said that he was in a meeting with Health Minister for many hours.

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