The Adityanath-led BJP
government in Uttar Pradesh
has decided to abolish local purchase of medicines and medicinal equipment in order to break the illegal nexus between corrupt officials and the ‘drug mafia’.
The state has decided to opt for a centralised purchasing system, as followed by Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan. For this purpose, the state government will be creating a separate, state-owned entity- the UP Medical Supplies Corporation
(UPMSC)- under the Companies Act 2013. Once listed, the state plans to end the existing practice of drug purchase, around 80 per cent of which is conducted at a local level by the district medical department officials. The remaining 20 per cent is purchased from the state’s headquarters.
With the launch of the new system, the central medicine store depot (CMSD) that operates under the state’s medical and health department would cease to exist.
The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by CM Yogi Adityanath
in Lucknow on Wednesday evening. Siddharth Nath Singh, the state’s health minister, had on the same day said the proposed corporation would be headed by an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.
He said the purchase would be done by the UPMSC, following which supplies would be forwarded to the local government hospitals and health centres across several districts. The distribution process will also be under the supervision of the newly created corporation.
“The abolition of local purchase would weed out rampant corruption in the process of purchasing medicines and usher in transparency,” he claimed. The whole process of incorporating the new corporation and its subsequent functioning is likely to take a year.
The said corporation, to be funded by the state government, is set to begin operations with an investment of Rs 20 crore.
Similar corporations are already functioning in Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Haryana, where the purchase of medicines and allied equipment follows a competitive pricing model.
During the current financial year, the UP Budget had allocated around Rs 1,200 crore for the purchase and supply of medicines and medical equipment to the state’s government-run hospitals. This includes central funds to the tune of Rs 300 crore under the National
Health Mission (NHM).
With a constant flow of funds from public as well as private players, the medical and health sector in the state has been a popular hunting ground for a quick buck among corrupt officials.
The death of over 60 children at the Baba Raghav Das (BRD) Medical College in Gorakhpur had recently raised serious concerns over the supply of medicines and allied equipment within the state. The deaths were attributed to the shortage oxygen supply at the hospital. Preliminary reports had subsequently revealed willful withholding of payments on the part of several officials despite having adequate funds to settle outstanding dues.