The National Health Mission recently released a ranking of 16 states on how they fared in the National Free Drug Scheme (NFDS) but Karnataka had no rank.
The state is not part of the Drug and Vaccine Distribution Management System (DVDMS), a central dashboard developed by the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, which gives the Union government inputs on coverage, the proportion of online drug distribution counters, and the quantity of expired drugs, including breakage, wastage and loss. The state has its own Aushada portal that is used to keep track of all information related to drugs.
It is the NFDS funds that the state relies on and asks hospitals to do local purchase from when there is a delay in the tender process handled by Karnataka State Drugs Logistics and Warehousing Society (KSDLWS).
For example, no company participated when it called for tenders to procure tetanus vaccine. On re-tendering, it got two companies to participate. Meanwhile, the state disbursed NFDS funds of Rs 25 lakh to district hospitals, Rs 10 lakh to taluk hospitals, Rs 3 lakh to community health centres and Rs 50,000 to primary health centres in two installments to enable public health institutions to make local purchase.
Last year, it disbursed Rs 44 crore of NFDS funds and this year Rs 48 crore. There are 1,899 PHCs in the state and 2,353 public health institutions.
Dr Mahesh Kumar, Chief Supervisor, Drugs, KSDLWS, told DH, "We are using Aushada software for supply and distribution of drugs. We have applied for integrating Aushada into DVDMS but are yet to receive approval for the same from the union government after which they can start monitoring our drug status. Then, they can give the state a ranking." While the state uses this portal to track its drug usage, for vaccines, it uses Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (EVIN).
"While EVIN has been integrated throughout the country with DVDMS, except two states, drug-tracking software, have not been integrated. While Karnataka has 842 drugs, the union government's list has more than 1,000 drugs. So whichever drug is not part of the list we are in the process of including it. Each of our warehouses has drugs worth Rs 3 crore to Rs 5 crore. While other states have monitoring up to warehouse level in their portals, we are monitoring up to institution-level in Aushada," Kumar added.
According to KSDLWS website, there are 32 warehouses and 2,940 institutes (primary health centres, community health centres, taluk hospitals, and district hospitals) that they supply to. On Friday, there is a meeting of the State Therapeutic Committee in which it will take a call to add additional drugs to their list. Quantity of drugs added to this list can be monitored by the union government.
Why the discrepancy in drug lists?
KSDLWS does not procure drugs for tertiary hospitals and medical colleges in the state and is in the process of becoming a corporation. Once it does, it will start procuring drugs for all autonomous bodies and procure drugs for cancer and cardiac care etc.
"We will need 1,300 drugs once we start single window procurement for all health institutions in the state including tertiary. Our budget will increase and also the quantum of drugs we procure," Kumar said.