Lakhimpur Medical College and Hospital
Lakhimpur Medical College and Hospital

North Lakhimpur: The Lakhimpur Medical College and Hospital (LMCH) in North Assam is facing a shortage of essential and life-saving drugs and medicines under the Free Drugs Service (FDS) scheme.

Essential and emergency care medicines like anti-rabies injections and other life-saving drugs are often found out of stock in the central pharmacy of LMCH leaving poor patients in dire straits and leaving them behind in achieving SDGs in the health sector in the country.

Sources said, in the first week of November, the stock of anti-rabies injections was nil at the medical college hospital.

On average there are daily 30 to 40 cases of dog and feline biting are reported to LMCH for which a minimum of three dosages of anti-rabies injection is required for the affected person.

The shortage of this essential medicine leaves many poor and needy families at utter risk to their health as the cost of the same injection in the outside market is very high.

The supply of such medicines to the central pharmacy at LMCH exhaust within the first two weeks of a month leaving a long list of patients to wait for an indefinite period.

There are cases in which patients were found waiting for long days for the arrival of rabies risking the period of its administration after being bitten, said a patient, who did not wish to be named.

Similarly, the stock of essential medicines like pantoprazole and essential anti-biotics supplied to LMCH also get quickly exhausted. 

It is learnt that only 30% of the demand for medicines and drugs has been supplied to the pharmacy of LMCH leaving to the distress of patients who come for state health service.

Many OPD patients alleged that some doctors prescribe branded drugs and medicines which are not available in the hospital. 

It must be mentioned that the state hospitals store generic drugs only for free distribution to patients under the Free Drugs Service (FDS) scheme.

Launched in 2013-14 under National Health Mission, the FDS is providing effective healthcare support to the needy and giving them access to essential medicines free of cost at government health institutions and hospitals.

Assam has also been committed to taking care of their patient from life-threatening diseases like cancer, hemophilia, neonatal, thalassemia, neurological, cardiological, and nephrological disorders etc.

The essential drugs are procured in generic form and provided free of cost to all OPD and IPD patients in government hospitals in Assam.

Both the Central and Assam government provide budgetary support for this initiative of providing essential drugs free of cost to patients visiting government hospitals. 

Assam State has notified the modified Essential Drugs List (EDL) in which the number of free drugs has been increased from 238 to 731 (as per strength and dosage form 731 against 407 categories) to treat communicable and non-communicable diseases with a broader view to ease the all financial burden of the common people seeking relief from various ailments as well as those diseases where the drug-treatment therapy is found too costly for a BPL as well as APL family.

These are implemented in view of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the country to achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all categories of patients.

Hence, the Assam government had implemented the scheme of providing essential drugs and surgical almost all categories free of cost at all Government health institutions including PHC/CHC/DH/Medical colleges of the State and a new EDL has been notified taking the standard of National Essential Drug List (NELM). Assam has 731 EDL for tertiary care hospitals like medical colleges.

Farhana Ahmed

Farhana Ahmed is Northeast Now Correspondent in North Lakhimpur. She can be reached at: