NHRC asks government to explain shortage of TB drugs

New Delhi, June 26 (IANS) The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Wednesday issued notice to all health secretaries demanding an explanation on the shortage of medicine for tuberculosis (TB).

Last week, the media reported that drugs for treating TB, particularly children, were in short supply across the country.

The NHRC said in a statement that following the media reports, it had “issued notices to the secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and health secretaries of all state governments/union territories. They have been given two weeks’ time to respond”.

The commission has directed the union health secretary to inform the status of availability of TB drugs in all the states as well as steps taken by the centre to overcome the acute shortage of TB drugs in two categories, paediatrics and drug registrant TB.

Media reports blamed the shortage on dither and delay in the government machinery that procures TB drugs centrally and distributes them across the country.

“It is reported that under the TB treatment programme, the centre is responsible for buying drugs and distributing them to the states, which then provide treatment. The stock-out is a result of never-ending issues that plague drug procurement… unless the government intervenes immediately, such shortage could prove disastrous,” the NHRC said.

However, union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad denied the shortage and said fresh stocks would arrive by July-end.

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