Srinagar: On November 26, the state government set up enquiry into the alleged spurious medicines in the department of ISM which was to be completed in a week’s time. But four weeks later the probe committee has yet to submit its report.
Why? Nobody knows. The Government has offered no reason so far. However, soon after some medicines lifted from a dispensary in Jammu were allegedly tested as spurious, the government lost no time to attach the Director General ISM Dr Abdul Kabir, even though it had earlier found no fault with the procurement process for these medicines.
According to the Association of Medical Officers Kashmir Division, the medicine are procured through the government approved transparent e-tendering process after the companies who bid to supply the medicines meet the criteria for doing so. Two important criteria for providing the medicines are to ensure these are supplied at competitive rates with promise of a good quality. And if the supplied medicine still turns out to be spurious, the responsibility is that of the company, not the department.
“If the procurement process is clean and fair, then our responsibility stops and the company has to be taken to task for anything that is wrong with the medicine,” said an official in the department. “But far from taking the company to task, the Government promptly attached the DG ISM for no fault of his”.
Also, for the DG ISM to come to know that a medicine is fake, and take sction, he has to be informed by the medical officer of the dispensary which in this case was not done, nor any responsibility was fixed at the lower level.
Incidentally, the samples of the alleged spurious medicine available at the dispensaries in Kashmir Valley and Ladakh have been found to be in good condition.
In his defence, Dr Kabir has said that his department had procured medicines through the government approved transparent e-tendering process after the companies who had bid to supply the medicines had met the conditions for doing so.
My job is to ensure the transparent purchase of the medicine according to laid-down government rules. That has been done and nobody has found fault with that, Dr Kabir said. The process of purchase, however, doesnt end with procurement. If later, it turns out that the supplied medicines are spurious or sub-standard, the supplier is accountable for it. And we take immediate action if we are informed by the medical officers who prescribe them.
This is a point Dr Kabir has stressed in his response to Health and Medical Education Department.
ISM Department has acted in good faith and has taken every care and caution despite all odds and obstructions to place indent with JKMSCL (Medical Supplies Corporation), the letter to Health and Medical Education Department reads.
With regard to the procedure of procurement of medicines, the department has adopted the most transparent mode of global tendering (e-tendering) procedure and after observing all the codal formalities with due diligence and keeping in view the options of technical, expert committees and competitive rates, the letter reads further.
The prompt attachment of Dr Kabir and the delay in completion of the enquiry is only undermining the fairness of process. This too when the other officials associated with the complex process of medicine procurement have been left untouched. Some officials in the department are already seeing Dr Kabir’s attachments as a result of the “turf war” in the bureaucracy.
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