PALAMPUR: Despite repeated warnings issued by the state Health Minister Dr. Rajiv Bindal to medical officers posted in various hospitals in the state to resist from prescribing sub- standard and unwanted medicines to the patients visiting government hospitals but till date there was no impact of health ministerâ€™s words.
In past three months the health minister had time and again warned the medical officers not to prescribe unwanted and sub standard drugs to the patients. But in Kangra district hardly any medical officer had bothered for the warning of the health minister so far. Doctors were still prescribing those medicines where company was providing them hand some commission and other costly gifts.
It is on record that is not well in the state health department, despite the fact that state government is spending crore of rupee on the health services in the state still it is beyond the reach of common man. Sale of sub-standard medicines through medical officers posted in government hospitals has become a big scam.
Though the senior officers of the health department are well conversant with the situation but no action has been initiated against the culprits who are either medical officers or other staff posted in the civil hospitals. Health department had a detailed list of such corrupt medical officers but none could dare either to shift them or initiate disciplinary action.
Tall claims made by the Health Minister Rajiv Bindal in the media after taking over the reins of health department to improve the health services in the state are only confined to officials files and poor patients who come with faith to the government hospital are worst victims.
According to detailed information gathered by this writer from various hospitals and Primary Health centers, it came as big surprise that the medical officers posted their were prescribing the sub standard medicines repeatedly to the patients pertaining to particular companies. In various hospital one prescription slip of the doctors were carrying five to eight drugs costing rupees two hundred to rupees three hundred which was beyond the capacity of poor patients.
A patient out side civil hospital Palampur told that he had only one hundred rupee in his pocket but the doctor had prescribed him medicines valuing rupees 268/-, Likewise a widow from Panchrukhi had come to the hospital in connection with gastro disease, a doctor in the civil hospital had prescribed her five medicines valuing rupees 316/-. There were many other such patients seen arguing with the chemists for heavy bills.
A doctor on duty when reminded by the writer on the warning of health minister, he remarked, “no one had the authority to challenge the prescription of the doctors, he could be even a health minister”.
The official record of various hospitals in the district established that the doctors had repeatedly prescribed particular brand of medicines to patients. Indoor record of one of the hospitals in the district also revealed that a doctor had written particular drug of particular company to the patients for the past one year. This writer has number of such prescription slips in its possession. There were instances, when particular medicines prescribed by the doctors were available in the hospital store, but the doctor had directed the patients to buy from the market.
Though the union government has proposed stringent provision of death penalty for the sale of sub-standard drugs but the state government seemed unconcerned with the situation. Today the Himachal Pradesh because of its difficult topography, poor health services and lack of corporate hospital had become a heaven for the sale sub standard drugs, as there was no agency exists to check the malpractices.
A survey conducted by a local voluntary organization last year had established that over one hundred brands of sub standard and spurious drugs are reportedly selling in different parts of this district. The matter was also brought in the notice of secretary health but the matter was hushed up.
A chemist out side zonal hospital Dharmshala told this reporter that the medical officers had patronized a particular chemist shops at these stations, which were selling these drugs. The medical stores opened by the state owned H.P. Civil Supply Corporation inside the hospital complex were also involved in this scam because of the fact that the purchase of medicines had not been centralized by the corporation and sales men posted in such medical stores were at liberty to buy the medicines at their own level. Therefore, they had tie up with such companies and buying sub standard medicines.
In Jassor (Nurpur), which is a wholesale market of medicines in the district, a leading chemist said that though the standard company medicines like Cipla, Ranbaxy, Torrent, Centaur etc were cheaper in the market but doctors do not prescribe these medicines, as they do not get commission or other incentives from standard companies.
He further disclosed that margin of profit in the sub standard medicines is ranging between 200 to 300 percent and part of it goes to the doctors. Besides, cash the costly gifts, foreign tours, jewelry and cars are also given to the doctors by the company if they full-fill the targets.
Dr. J. S. Chandel, Chief Medical Officer Kangra, when contacted by writer said that he was deeply concerned with the situation. He said he had already received such complaints, thereafter he called the meetings of Block Medical Officers and Senior Medical Officers of the district last month and directed them not to keep check on such medical officers in their respective hospitals who were not only exploiting the poor patients but also brining bad name to the department. He said health department was committed to implement the instructions of health minister.
Dr. Chandel said in past three months he had personally visited various hospitals in the district and inspected the prescription slips of the medical officers. He said few doctors in the district were involved in these malpractices which was against professional ethics , they had been warned by him, if they fail to amend themselves, appropriate action would be initiated against them.
Increasing political interference in the posting of medical officers and Para medical staff has made the matter worse. Most of the staff posted in Civil Hospitals enjoys the political patronage. After the change of government BJP MLAs and Ministers had openly come for the rescue such corrupt doctors and pleading their cases before the Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal. In many hospitals the doctors had not been shifted for the past seven to eight years and they had developed vested interests at the cost of poor patients.