BENGALURU: Primary health centres (PHCs) run by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), which are the lifeline for the urban poor, are facing an an acute shortage of basic drugs and medical kits. The reason is that the BBMP has failed to clear dues to suppliers over the last two years, by its own admission.
There are 201 primary health centres that come under BBMP and of them, at least 40 per cent of the centres are facing shortage of medical kits and medicines. There are allegations from the public that people are turned away without treatment in at least 90 of the PHCs.
The BBMP has admitted that the main reason for the supply shortfall is that bills have not been paid to the drugs and medical equipment suppliers from last two years as the State Medical Supplies Corporation has withheld the payments. The PHCs are now facing a shortage of cotton, stitching kit, iron tablets, cetirizine tablets, diabetes medicines and even cough syrups.
Dr Thrilok Chandra, BBMP Special Commissioner said, “The issue has come to our attention and there has been a delay in payments to the suppliers. The problem will be solved immediately and funds will be released from the National Health Mission (NHM). There is a shortage of drugs in 20 PHCs, but we have managed the requirement. If there is an urgent need of medicines, the staff have been instructed to buy them from Jan Aushadhi kendras. We are also considering calling for tenders for supply of medicines and we are hopeful that there won’t be any shortage at the PHCs.
“Funds are released every quarter under the national free drug supply guidelines of the NHM. Till the last quarter, funds were released with which we purchased medicines and distributed it to the PHCs. Under NFDS, we can procure medicines locally. On January 30, funds for the next quarter will be released and there should not be any issues with supply. Wherever there is shortage, we have arranged for lateral transfer from other PHCs which have adequate stocks, he noted.