Mumbai: A week before rains, BMC realises it has to supply medicines to hospitals

Civic body sought the sanction of the Standing Committee to supply medicines for monsoon-related ailments to civic hospitals and clinics only on Monday; the proposal will come up for discussion today

With the rains comes relief from the sweltering heat. But the monsoon also brings its share of ailments with it. Just a week before the first showers are expected to hit Mumbai, the civic administration has woken up from its slumber and sought the Standing Committee ‘s sanction for the supply of monsoon-related medicines and diagnostic kits to civic hospitals.

The ‘monsoon schedule’ of medicines includes, among others, dengue testing kits and oxygen masks. Representation pic/Thinkstock
The ‘monsoon schedule’ of medicines includes, among others, dengue testing kits and oxygen masks. Representation pic/Thinkstock

This, despite the new municipal commissioner, Ajoy Mehta, making monsoon preparedness his top priority. He has been reviewing the situation of the city’s roads and other pre-monsoon works. The kits, which contain medicines for treating dengue and malaria, among other diseases, will be made available to hospitals only a week after the Standing Committee approves the proposal.

The plan will be discussed in the committee’s meeting today. Last year, the city saw one of its worst bouts of dengue, with over 800 cases being detected and 12 people dying of the disease. The civic body faced a lot of flak since it was unable to contain the spread of the disease, which subsided only after temperatures soared. Malaria cases, too, had crossed 9,000 and 18 had died of the ailment.

On Monday, a proposal for the ‘monsoon schedule’ of medicines, which means a stock of medicines bought other than the ‘regular schedule’, was included in the agenda of the Standing Committee. According to the proposal, all municipal hospitals, clinics, and maternity homes will be supplied with a stock of monsoon-related medicines and diagnostic kits.

These include 70 kits of a dengue NS1 antigen called ‘Elisa’, 38,745 kits of rapid dengue NS1 antigen detection test, 4,464 disposable oxygen masks for children and 3,567 oxygen masks for adults, among 54 other items. The entire stock will cost the civic body R1.82 crore.

Delayed
This proposal will be taken up by the committee today, at a time when rains are almost at the city’s doors. After the committee sanctions the plan, the Central Purchase department of the BMC will send a rate card to all civic hospitals and clinics, which will then place orders as per their requirements. This monsoon stock is supposed to last for the four months of monsoon i.e. June to September.

However, since the proposal itself has been delayed and procuring the medicines is subject to the Standing Committee’s approval and the long procedure thereafter, hospitals fear it may take at least till the second week of July to actually get hold of the kits.

“It is true that the monsoon schedule of drugs comes late. Last year, it came in August; so this year the condition has improved slightly. But all civic hospitals have enough stock of monsoon-related medicines to last us till the first week of July,” said Dr Avinash Supe, dean, KEM Hospital.

Corruption?
The leader of opposition in the BMC, Devendra Amberkar, questioned this, “If they have enough stock, why are they buying more? This means there is massive corruption in the process. In fact, in the past, the BMC has bought medicines from blacklisted contractors. If there is an adverse drug reaction, who is to blame?”

Official speak
“It is true that the process is delayed. In fact, we got the go-ahead from the public health department only in February, after which we invited the bids in March. Any tendering process takes at least three months and we have completed it in that time.

But I wish we had got the approval faster,” said Deputy Municipal Commissioner Narendra Barde, in-charge of Central Purchase department. “As deputy municipal commissioners, we have about R25 lakh under our jurisdiction.

Under that, as a precautionary measure, I allowed the purchase of medicines under the regular schedule, which will last us till the beginning of July. I hope that, by then, the stock of the monsoon schedule will have arrived,” he added.

12
No of dengue deaths in 2014, as per BMC records

18
No of malaria deaths in the same period

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