NRHM officials ask govt why patients paying more for drugs

In November, a three-member team from the NRHM visited Kolkata as well as 15 district hospitals, including West Midnapore, Murshidabad and Malda

National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) authorities in Delhi have sought an explanation from the state health department for the increase in out-of-pocket expenditure of patients' relatives for purchase of medicines even though NRHM funds have been disbursed for the same.

The Central authorities have also expressed dissatisfaction with two medical colleges in Bengal, which have not renewed their blood bank licenses after they expired in August 30, 2012.

Senior health officials, including principal secretary, health, Satish Tiwari, have been called on January 4 by the Centre to give an explanation as to why the out-of-pocket expenditure of patients has increased 50 per cent for purchase of essential medicines. This is despite the Centre having allotted Rs 65 crore for purchase of essential medicines in 3,500 state-run hospitals in 2012.

Sources in the health department said that the state-run hospitals did not stock many essential medicines, forcing the patients' relatives to buy the medicines elsewhere, thereby increasing their out-of-pocket expenditure.

Tiwari admitted that he would be going to Delhi and meeting NRHM officials, but it would be a "routine meeting".

The sources said that in November 2012, a three-member team from the NRHM common review mission visited Kolkata as well as 15 district hospitals - including three medical colleges in West Midnapore, Murshidabad and Malda. They expressed their dissatisfaction with the increase in patients' expenditure in spite of fund disbursal for medicines.

A senior official added that even after the team returned to Delhi, there was no improvement in procurement of essential medicines in the medical colleges. With the problem persisting, it will be difficult for state health officials to provide an explanation to the Delhi bosses.

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