Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government on Monday dismissed the opposition's allegation of a shortage of medicines in government hospitals, stating that medicines under the essential drug list are available in all hospitals.
Health Minister Veena George, in response to a query by opposition UDF MLA and Kerala Congress (Jacob) leader, Anoop Jacob in the state Assembly, said that the state government has ensured the availability of medicines in all government hospitals through Kerala Medical Services Corporation Ltd (KMSCL).
"We have ensured the stock of medicines in all hospitals. There is no shortage of medicines for the patients. In fact, in certain cases the KMSCL has supplied more medicines than the purchase indent submitted by the hospitals," the minister told the Assembly.
Jacob cited various news reports alleging a shortage of medicines in various government hospitals across the state. He also alleged that government hospitals were referring patients to outside laboratories and pharmacies and sought a reply from the government.
George said that Jacob's statement was generalised and misleading and sought to withdraw it. She claimed in the Assembly that the state government has distributed medicines worth Rs 554 crore in the current financial year till January.
In an apparent reference to the situation of the government hospitals in 2015-16, when the UDF was in power, she said the total expenditure for distributing medicines through government hospitals was Rs 256 crore only.
"There is a considerable increase in the cost of medicines which are distributed. This is due to an increase in the number of patients at government hospitals because of the improved quality of treatment and medicines," she noted.
George further said the government has ensured that the medicines listed under the essential drug list are stocked in all hospitals.
"The officials hold regular weekly meetings to evaluate the stock of medicines at the hospitals and take necessary steps to ensure the same," she added.
KMSCL acts as the central procurement agency for all essential drugs and equipment for all public healthcare institutions.