The state’s austerity drive has caught on in hospitals. To mobilise resources, the health department has instructed state-run hospitals to manufacture some simple drugs, as well as items like oral rehydration salt (ORS). The funds will come from the World Bank’s ongoing State Health System Development Project.
Health officials said this unprecedented move will also boost medicare, as the hospitals can save funds by checking expenses on basic medicines, like antacids, carminatives and ORS, bought from private companies.
For the past few days, doctors and pharmacists of state hospitals have been undergoing training on making drugs, by following old formulae of alkaline mixtures and carminatives. Hospital employees are also being trained and encouraged to prepare ORS solutions and purified water. All state-run hospitals use an average of 2,000 litres of purified water every month for drinking, cleaning the laboratory and instruments, as dialysis fluid and in preparing medicines.
The make-your-own-drugs project at hospitals will be monitored by the state health and family welfare department.
“A small satchet of ORS costs Rs 2.32 in the market. The government spends another several thousand rupees buying purified water from dealers, apart from essential drugs. This project of indigenous manufacture within the hospitals will help the government save lakhs,” explained training coordinator Subhas Mandal at SSKM Hospital.
Welcoming the project, director of health services Prabhakar Chatterjee, who was present during the training programme, said “doctors, nurses and pharmacists must realise their potential and help improve healthcare in government hospitals.”
The West Bengal Pharmacy Council has pitched in the programme after surveys conducted by the state health department over the past few months revealed how doctors in hospitals were not upgrading their knowledge about new drugs and were depending on medical representatives for information.
It has, therefore, been decided that all pharmacology departments in state-run hospitals will prepare a drug information database and keep in touch with doctors, telling them about what’s new and what’s out.
“Doctors often prescribe drugs that do not have FDA approval, but the onus is on pharmacists to explain the effects of several drugs that are banned but are still in use,” claimed Deepankar Chakraborty, principal, Institute of Pharmacy.
About 200-odd hospital officials are being trained to be cordial to patients. “It doesn’t take much to say a few words of encouragement. Start being nice and see how things improve in the hospital,” the programme participants were told.