Karnataka excluded from survey on free drug scheme

Karnataka excluded from survey on free drug scheme

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The National Health Mission recently released the ranking of 16 states on the National Free Drug Scheme in which Karnataka was not included due to technical issues. 

The state is not a part of the Drug and Vaccine Distribution Management System (DVDMS), a dashboard for the Centre to collect input on parameters including coverage, the proportion of online drug distribution counters and expired drugs, including breakage, wastage and loss. 

The state has its own portal called Aushada to record all drug-related information. 

Karnataka relies a great deal on the NFDS funds, on whose strength it allows hospitals to locally purchase drugs in the event of a delay in tendering by the Karnataka State Drugs Logistics and Warehousing Society (KSDLWS). 

A recent KSDLWS tender to procure tetanus vaccine received no bids from companies. Re-tendering only elicited interest from two firms. 

In the meantime, the state dispersed NFDS funds — in two instalments — 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 to get tetanus vaccine. 

While Rs 44 crore of NFDS funds were disbursed last year, the figure went up to Rs 48 crore this year. The state has 1,899 PHCs out of 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 the DVDMS but are yet to receive approval 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 Aushada software to keep track of its use of medicines, it has Electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (EVIN) for tracking vaccine uses. 

“The EVIN has been integrated with the DVDMS throughout the country, except in two states. But the drug-tracking software hasn’t been linked,” Kumar added. “Karnataka has 842 drugs, while the union government’s list has more than 1,000 drugs. We’re in the process of including drugs that are not part of our list.” 

He continued: “Each of our district warehouses has drugs worth Rs 3 crore to Rs 5 crore. While other states monitor drugs up to the warehouse level through their portals, we monitor up to the institution level in Aushada.” 

The KSDLWS website shows that the state supplies drugs to 32 warehouses and 2,940 institutes, including primary health centres, community health centres, taluk hospitals and district hospitals. 

Why the discrepancy?

The KSDLWS does not procure drugs for the state’s tertiary hospitals and medical colleges. Once it becomes a corporation, which is in the process, it will start procuring drugs for all autonomous bodies and for diseases like cancer and cardiac care. 

“We will need 1,300 drugs once we start single-window procurement for all state health institutions, including tertiary hospitals,” Kumar said. “Our budget would increase and also the quantum of procurement.” 

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