Bangalore: It’s not easy being a patient at the century-old Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital. People need to visit pharmacies outside even for essential medicines like Carvedilol used to treat heart failure and hypertension (high blood pressure).
In fact , the stock board of Bowring and Lady Curzon Hospital shows only three cardiology drugs are available with even drugs that can be used in combination to manage mild or moderate congestive heart failure missing from the pharmacy. A simple drug like aspirin, which is recommended for the prevention and treatment of various aspects of cardiovascular diseases, is not stocked here either.
When asked when she thought patients could expect to buy essential cardiology drugs at the hospital , the lady pharmacist said, “We have no idea when they will be available.”
It’s not just cardiology drugs that are hard to find at the pharmacy, but several other medicines too. “Basically people who are patients here don’t have a cheaper option. Nearly 70 per cent of their hospital expenditure goes on buying these drugs,” says a hospital source.
But Dr. Syed Iqbalulla Sha Khadri, Medical Superintendent of the hospital claims it has all the essential drugs at hand and others are in the process of being procured. As for the absence of cancer drugs at the hospital, he says, “I am new and whatever needs to be done to build the department is being done. And we are trying to improve the areas which need attention.”
Sylvia Karpagam a private practitioner working with Janaarogya Andolana, the Karnataka chapter of the People’s Health Movements, says patients at many government and even tertiary hospitals like Bowring and Victoria, are being asked to buy medicines as basic as iron and folic acid, ORS, saline drips and calcium from outside. “It is a serious human and health rights violation by the state government. There is absolutely no accountability and they violate rights with impunity. The poor suffer in the process,” she regrets.
At Victoria, drugs at pharmacies have expired
Ameena waits helplessly outside the Victoria Hospital with her younger brother who is battling kidney failure and liver disease. Doctors of the Bowring Hospital, who have referred her here for want of beds, have told her that her brother will not survive if he is not treated immediately.
“They referred us to Victoria hospital saying they did not have dialysis and beds,” says a distressed Ameena, who has now been told by Victoria hospital that her brother can be treated only after Christmas. To top it all, she has been asked to buy certain branded drugs from outside. Her case is not an isolated one. Many patients at Victoria hospital are having to deal with poor availability of cheaper emergency drugs.
Victoria hospital has two drug stores: Jana Aushadalaya and a store with branded drugs. Jan Aushadalaya gives away drugs at a discount but patients are told there is no guarantee with these medicines.
“Even the doctors tell them the same. So they have no choice but to buy dearer drugs,” says Sylvia Karpagam a private practitioner working with Janaarogya Andolana, the Karnataka chapter of the People’s Health Movements.
But, claims Dr Varalakshmi K.V., the chief medical officer on duty, “We don’t have a list of drugs outside the medical store, but nearly all are available with us. You can write to the Medical Superintendent about the drugs that are not here and he will look into it.” But as the Medical Superintendent was on leave he could not be reached.