Safdurjung's burns unit runs out of medicines

Safdurjung's burns unit runs out of medicines

Patients forced to buy basic drugs from outside

The burns unit at Safdarjung Hospital has not had supply of essential medicines to treat burn injuries for many months. Patients are asked to buy Betadine and silver sulphurdiazine from outside which costs a few thousand rupees.

Safdarjung Hospital has the largest dedicated burns unit in Asia. On an average, the hospital receives 2,000 admissions every year.

Its mandate is to provide certain medicines free to all patient.

Shyamlata was brought to  unit 17 days ago along with her six-year-old daughter as after they got burnt due to gas leak in the house. She has 20 per cent burns, while the daughter received 60 per cent. 

"Every time Shyamlata visits the hospital we have to get a whole pack of Betadine. It costs Rs 350 each pack," said Shyamlata's relative. In the past 17 days the family has spent Rs 3,000 on Betadine alone. The expenditure is accentuated by spending on medicines too.

"Only on the first day, some medicines were given in the outpatient department. After that all tablets and other material has been bought by us," said Shyamlata.

Sources in the unit said Betadine has not been in supply since three months.
"Betadine is the first line of defence. It alone is enough to treat minor burn injuries. Our unit gets patients who cannot afford to buy it. We are forced to put bandage on them, which is not the best option in many cases," said a staff member.

Silver sulphurdiazine is another important component in treatment to control infection. By controlling local infection, systemic infection is prevented.

"There has been no silver sulphurdiazine for two months," said a source.

 The staff complained they have to run around and request for these basic medicines from other patients to treat the poor ones.

"We try to help people, but not always successfully," they complained.

The issue of shortage of silver sulphurdiazine came to light earlier too when silver prices rose sharply. The matter was resolved, but not on a permanent basis.

"The supply is just not enough. We do not get the needed materials regularly," said a staff member.
A senior official said the supplier has not been sending the required material for a long time now.

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