GUWAHATI, June 2 � Several urban centres in Assam have government hospitals with inadequate stock of medicines, deflating official claims that a range of medicines are being offered free of cost to patients.
According to a well regarded study carried out by Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS) and the Action Northeast Trust (ANT), Bongaigaon, Guwahati, and Nagaon are three cities where the common person does not have access to a number of medicines, which should be in the stocks of government hospitals.
The survey reveals that in Guwahati Medical College Hospital, 99 medicines were absent from the hospital stock. The number of medicines absent in the hospital but present in State List of Essential Medicines was 41 at the time of the survey.
In Civil Hospital Nagaon, 42 types of medicines were absent in hospital stock, and 15 medicines absent in the hospital are mentioned in the State List of Essential Medicines.
Public Health Institutions in Bongaigaon did not fare any better. Number of medicines present in hospital stock was 13, but the number absent from stock was 11.
The inadequacy of medicine stocks in government hospitals has compelled people to buy medicines from privately owned pharmacies which at times sell the most expensive variety of medicines instead of those which are low cost yet equally effective.
Findings revealed that a large number of respondents bought medicines from private sources, non-availability of drugs in public hospital is not uncommon, and there was insistence by doctors to buy drugs from outside. No less a matter of concern was high degree of prevalence of 'incompleteness of diagnosis'.
During the survey, it was noticed that collusive practices were going on in the three urban areas of Assam and some of the practices violated ethical conduct of people on whom people had trust.
According to the two organistations, there were issues for policy such as in procurement and distribution of medicines, public display of hospital stock, periodic scrutiny of prescriptions. Significantly, CUTS also called for the adoption of Clinical Establishment Act, 2010 in states so that collusive conduct among doctors, clinics and pharmacists can be curbed.