Empty SMHS drugstores jeer at healthcare system

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SRINAGAR: One of the major government-run hospitals of Srinagar City, SMHS has failed to provide free medicines to the patients who visit the facility almost from the entire valley. Patients are totally unaware of the availability of free medicines as the drug store exists just for the sake of name only.

“We have no idea about the availability of free medicines as there is no guidance at all,” said an attendant of a patient, Javed Ahmad. “My father had a cardiac arrest and we are here for the past five days.”

“I have been purchasing all the medicines from private medical stores,” he added.

Some 67 drugs to be made available at the drug counters inside various wards are duly pasted on the walls by way of a list, however, they are not given to the patients for reasons best known to the authorities.

“The drugs should be made available to the patients but the authorities simply don’t,” said a paramedic staffer who wished not to be named.

“I purchased medicines worth Rs 1000 from a chemist which otherwise should have been available in the hospital,” said a patient, Mohammad Maqbool from Chadoora, Budgam. “I am suffering from hypertension. Almost every week, I visit the hospital but every time I am forced to purchase medicines from outside.”

In charge Pharmacy, ENT, Tajamul Ahmad while expressing his helplessness said that they only allotted medicines which the authorities provided them. “We know patients suffer but we are not responsible for it,” he said. “We have submitted the list of medicines. Hopefully, we will get them from next month.”

Most of the patients complain that they don’t get the vital medicines from the hospital drug stores which have to be provided on discounted rates. “Why should a drug store exist in the hospital if it doesn’t serve the purpose,” asked Afroza from Batmaloo who was accompanying her brother.

Ironically, the sales counter in the hospital claims it provides medicines on discount to the patients.

Many patients complained that shortage forced them to purchase essential medicines from private chemists. “My spouse has severe urinary tract infection (UTI) and I have to purchase all medicines including antibiotics from outside,” said Tariq Ahmad, a resident of Anantnag.

Medical superintendent, Nazir Ahmad Choudhry, declined to comment on the issue, however not before directing this corresponded to get in touch with the Principal, Government Medical College (GMC), Dr Kaisar Ahmad.

“There are many life-saving drugs available in the hospital which patients get free of cost,” said Dr Kaisar. “The list of medicines that the Medical Superintendent forwards is taken care of and the medicines therein are given free of cost to the patients”.

Director Health Services Kashmir, Dr Sumir Matto, says every drug cannot be provided free of cost. “Every hospital provides a list of drugs according to which some are given free of cost,” he said. “Rest of the medicines  

“All hospitals provide their own list of medicines and we approve some medicines to be given free of charge, however, all drugs cannot be given free. We have employed a straight drug policy which will enhance the quota of free medicines which would be made available after inviting the tenders”, he said.

The bottom line, however, is a poor patient suffers in the process of the concerned officials passing the buck to one another.

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