Foul play in Delhi's health department

Published: Apr 29, 2011, 07:47 IST | Astha Saxena |

There are cases where pharmacists have managed to occupy the same post in government hospitals for 15 years, far beyond the stipulated limit of 2 years

There are cases where pharmacists have managed to occupy the same post in government hospitals for 15 years, far beyond the stipulated limit of 2 years 

MiD DAY had raised the issue in August last year. After Delhi police arresting two pharmacists in the Capital, among others, on Thursday for smuggling of medicines from a government hospital, it would appear that some diseases are incurable. This correspondent found that a large number of pharmacists are working in the hospitals by violating the guidelines of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

As per the ministry's directive to all government hospitals, no pharmacist can continue in the same post in a hospital (or by moving to a different hospital) for more that two years. Despite this, there are a number of people working as pharmacists in government hospitals as well as in Directorate of Health Services (DHS) for more than ten years. Even if they change their job, they manage to get the same position in other hospitals allegedly by bribing members of the health department. According to officials, this is the only reason why such scams happen, as these people form strong connections in a particular area with smuggler, suppliers and persons within the department, and then carry out this illegal trade.

Bitter pill: Five persons arrested by Delhi police on Thursday who
were involved in illegally selling off medicine meant for the poor
at a government hospital. Pic/ Subhsh barolia

All's not well
In one such case, AK Wadhwa, who has been working as the Pharmacist in-charge, Purchase, Sanjay Gandhi Memorial Hospital, has been in the same post for the last 15 years. Another person from the same hospital is Rakesh Sharma, who has also been holding onto the same position for more than ten years.

"He has earlier worked in Lok Nayak and Deen Dayal Hospital in the same post. Why is he being given special treatment? These people are solely responsible for this menace. If the government has made some rules, they must have thought about it, but these pharmacists completely ignore such rules and guidelines," said a senior official from the health department on the condition of anonymity.

Ill-gotten gains
Sources pointed out that there is a full-fledged racket functioning from these hospitals. According to them, Narendra Kumar Sharma, who was arrested yesterday, was also a part of the same racket. Before, Hedgewar Hospital, he was working with Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital in the same post. Similarly, another pharmacist arrested, Dharmendra, was working with Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital.

"Interestingly, you will find these pharmacists moving through the same chain of hospitals, including  LBS Hospital, Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital, Sanjay Gandhi Hospital, Deen Dayal Upadhyay and Aruna Asif Ali Hospital," said an official from DHS who did not wish to be named.

Some other pharmacists who have been in the same post for more than ten years are Anil Kumar from Aruna Asif Ali and Malkiata Singh working in the Central Store of DHS. Health department sources also allege that instead of purchasing medicines and other drugs through Central Procurement Agency (CPA), these pharmacists buy the medicines from their own group of traders.

"They do not follow the guideline which says that medicines and drugs should be purchased by the CPA. Instead they give the tender to the local traders and supply the same medicines to other hospitals," added a health department official.

'Not our problem'
Meanwhile, the DHS completely brushed off the issue saying that the transfer and promotion of pharmacists is not a matter of their concern."These cases don't come under me. The DHS is only responsible for the internal posting in the dispensaries, but we do keep on changing the posts. These posts are managed by Secretariat," said Dr Kamath, Director, DHS.

Despite repeated calls and messages, Rajendra Kumar, Secretary, DHS did not reply to us. MiD DAY had earlier too tried to speak to him over the same issue, without success. "I will definitely inquire into the matter. We will find out all the details about all such pharmacists who have been violating the guidelines of the ministry," said Dr AK Walia, Minister of Health, Delhi Government.

Unholy nexus
In Thursday's raid, medicines worth Rs 60 lakh were recovered from the arrested persons identified as Ashwani Sharma (35), Pyare Ali (35), Hakim Singh (45), Dharmender Kumar (40) and Narender Kumar Sharma (56). Narender is the head pharmacist of Hedgewar Hospital while Kumar works under him, Sanjay Kumar Jain, Deputy Commissioner of Police (North-East), said.

"We have exposed the unholy nexus between hospital staff and medicine supplier and the systematic siphoning of the government procured medicine meant for poor patients. Ashwani and Narender were the main kingpins who were operating the gang for the last one year," Jain said.

The arrests came after police received information about illegal sale of government medicine. Following investigations, Jain said, a raid was conducted at the house of Ashwani. "The raid parties were shocked to see the huge stocks of medicine at his house where he had a godown to store them. All the medicines were bearing specific marking of 'Supply for Government of NCT of Delhi, Not for sale' and on some medicine marking of 'MCD supply, Not for Sale' was imprinted," Jain said.

Medicines of 28 types mostly costly antibiotics, ointments and inhalers, including Amoxycillin 500mg, Roxythromycin 150mg, Ampicllin 500mg, Asthalin, Ciprorin 200mg and 500mg, Metrogyl 400mg, Cephalaxin 500mg etc were recovered.

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