They wait for hrs, only to find drugs are not available

At the Delhi government-run Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital, patients wait for hours to get free drugs only to realise “the expensive medicines” prescribed are not available.

Even though the Delhi government is trying to highlight the developments achieved in the health sector in the last few months, the availability of generic drugs in the state-run hospitals has not improved. Doctors also always do not prescribe generic drugs even though there have been several circulars issued to them to stick to prescribing these drugs.

“My husband have been waiting in the queue for over an hour-and-a-half now. However, we know that we will not get all the medicines on the prescription,” said Basihat.

Nasal drops and “expensive capsules” for fever were unavailable when she came to the hospital seven days back for her 11-month-old son. “They just turn us away and ask us to get those medicines from outside. They have only the cheap medicines in stock,” she said.

The hospital administration, however, said the stocks were updated and most generic drugs were available.

“We have briefed doctors repeatedly to prescribe only generic drugs. An availability list of drugs has also been given out to prescribe substitute medicines in case the specific drug is not available. The chemist (shop) inside the premises was also shut down to rule out chances that this leads to non-availability of free generic drugs at the pharmacy counter,” said Dr S K Sharma, Medical Superintendent, Aruna Asaf Ali Hospital.

He added that patients will be entertained in the Medical Superintendent’s office from 10 am to 12 pm every day for such grievances to be addressed.

Birendar Thakur, a resident of Yamuna Vihar, said that there was always a shortage of medicines on orthopaedic problems at the hospital. “I come every 15 days to pick up medicines for my wife. There is always a lack of medicines for her orthopaedic problems. Ointments are rarely available.”

Rahul, in his early 20s, agreed. “I always have to buy the ointments for my mother’s backpain from outside.”

Other patients who came to pick medicines for diabetes and hypertension said the entire list was never available.

Accompanied by her mother-in-law, Saroj said, getting medicines of diabetes was a “luck”. “I got lucky today. I didn’t get only two medicines out of a list of five. Doctors, however, always claim all the drugs they are writing down will be available at the hospital pharmacy.”

Patients said the staff at the counters do not give an explanation if the medicines are unavailable due to lack of stocks or because these do not fall in the generic list.

The Delhi government is now planning to update the stocks being dispatched to each hospital. Admitting to “aberrations” in the system, health officials said at a press meet on Tuesday that the “procurement plan” of medicines for 2015-16 will be made available to the public on the government website.

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