BHUBANESWAR: The state government’s utilization of funds, received from the Centre under National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), a programme aimed at improving primary healthcare, has raised eyebrows. The latest report of comptroller and auditor general (CAG) of India, tabled in assembly on the last day of the current session on Monday, said medicines not of standard quality (NSQ) and expired drugs were administered to patients.
The NSQ medicines included tablets, syrups, vials of injections and ointments. They were given to patients in several districts like Balangir, Cuttack, Jajpur, Mayurbhanj, Koraput and Sundargarh even after receiving reports from drug testing laboratory.
Jajpur chief district medical officer for mysterious reasons chose to sit over the laboratory report, resulting in 20 vials of NSQ injections and 181 bottles of NSQ surgical spirit being administered to patients between September 2011 and March 2012, the report said. In places like Maniabandh, Tangi and Kanpur in Cuttack district, patients were given Dextrose Sodium Chloride (DNS) despite detection of ‘fungus’ in as many as 480 bottles. As many as 31 types of ‘time expired’ medicines were found continuously being given to patients for years together during 2007-13. Responding to audit query, the officials said ‘expired medicines were used due to excess supply of drugs lying in stock’, the report stated adding ‘the department was not serious about NSQ drugs even after receipt of reports’.
The NHRM was initiated in 2005 in 18 states, including Odisha, considering its ‘weak public health indicators and poor infrastructure’ so that rural people could get access to equitable, affordable and effective primary healthcare facilities. But there was lack of planning and deficiencies on all fronts, including putting in place infrastructure despite availability of funds. Even institutional deliveries for which Janani Suraksha Yojana with cash incentives was introduced was not ‘satisfactory’ in many districts. “The objective of the mission remained largely unfulfilled,” the report observed.