PAC slams Health Ministry

In its latest report submitted today, the PAC, headed by senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi, said it was surprised to note that prior to the audit review of the system adopted by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare for procurement of medicines and medical equipment, there were no uniform and comprehensive procurement policy guidelines and purchase manuals.

"It is quite unbelievable that the Ministry responsible and accountable for efficiency, economy and transparency in the procurement of medicines and medical equipment, including life saving drugs and high-end machinery, did not allow any standardised purchase procedure for years together," the PAC said.

It said that despite an assurance given to the committee that the codification process of the revised purchase manual would be completed by December, 2009, the ministry have not yet been able to do.

"It is something totally unacceptable to the committee as it depicts an indifferent attitude on the part of the Ministry towards such an important issue," the report said. The committee recommended that urgent measures be taken by the Ministry to develop a computer aided and computer based system in AIIMS so that the premier institute is able to take into account the IT-based solutions besides codifying the conventional drugs, thus appropriately shifting to an IT enabled system of effective financial management.

On unusual variations on the prescription pattern of the doctors concerned, it recommended that the monitoring mechanism be strengthened and exemplary action taken against the errant doctors, who take advantage of the helplessness of the patients and frequently prescribe expensive medicines outside the formulary, so that superfluous local purchase of medicines is avoided.

Audit scrutiny revealed that these two hospitals did not have any essential list of drugs and they indented for or purchased medicines directly on the basis of drug lists compiled every year on the basis of requisition made by the departmental heads.

The committee also observed that during the years 2001-02 to 2006-07, 36 items of medicines in CGHS-Delhi, Pune and Kolkata and Government Medical Store Depot (Kolkata) were sent for laboratory testing on the basis of complaints received from the Chief Medical Officers and individuals. The laboratory testing report had confirmed the sub-standard quality of drugs.

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