Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, January 26:
The distribution and supply of nearly 30 lakh medicine capsules, identified as ‘not of standard quality’ (NSQ) having dangerous side effects, to all government hospitals in the state speaks volume of the callousness of the Odisha government.
The Health department, after coming to know about these NSQ capsules, has hurriedly asked the chief district medical officers (CDMOs) of all districts to stop distribution with immediate effect in a letter.
The department has also asked the CDMOs to report about the number of such capsules distributed so far and the present stock available.
Besides, the department is unable to know about the district-wise supply of these NSQ capsules due to faulty software, reports said.
The three NSQ capsules supplied by the department are, Ciprofloxacin, Albendazole and Calcium.
It may be mentioned that the state government supplies free medicines to three government-run medical colleges and hospitals at Cuttack, Brahmapur and Burla, Capital Hospital in Bhubaneswar and Sishu Bhawans in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, Community Health Centres (CHCs) and Primary Health Centres (PHCs) for the poor patients.
The medicine management unit of the Directorate of Health is in charge of purchase and supply of these free medicines.
Earlier, the Health department was purchasing medicines of around Rs 15-20 crore. But as the state government has decided to supply other medical equipment and the medicines free of cost, the cost of purchase is now pegged around Rs 200 crore.
To deal with the purchase and distribution of these medicines and equipment, the state government has formed Odisha State Medical Corporation (OSMC) which is yet to be made a self-functioning unit.
Prior to the formation of the Corporation, the Odisha government was having offline and online purchase and distribution of medicines through ORI Wish software and DIMS software respectively.
But after formation of the Corporation, its managing director Rupa Mishra had decided to replace the two software.
As per the decision, the Corporation, in June last year, had purchased e-Aushadhi, an online software developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAK) at a hefty price, to deal with the purchase, inventory management and distribution of various drugs, sutures and surgical items to various District Drug Warehouses (DDWs), medical colleges, district hospitals, CHCs, (PHCs) and Drug Distribution Centres (DDCs) in the state.
But as the Corporation used the software with immediate effect without examining the details relating to its effectiveness and utility as a source of profit, the online distribution of medicine subsequently went haywire.
Due to fault in the software, the process of registration of medicines at the medicine godowns in the state could not be made. Besides, the Corporation is unable to know about the stock and requirements of medicines in the districts.
Due to problem in the software, the Corporation is unable to inform the district hospitals, CHCs and PHCs to stop distribution of NSQ medicines.
The Corporation is neither able to verify the volume of stock of these NSQ medicines and nor able to replace them immediately.
A senior official of the Health department, requesting anonymity, said had the software functioned properly, the district collectors could have informed forthwith to stop the distribution of NSQ medicines.
He said the department has reminded the Corporation MD three times to solve the problem in the software to which she has assured that it will be done soon.
True, that the problem in the software can be solved. But will the government be responsible if the condition of the patients who have already used these NSQ medicines worsens, remains a million dollar question.