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Maharashtra gives district collectors full control over use of medical funds | Mumbai News – Times of India



MUMBAI: Facing heat for failing to procure medicine stocks on time, the state on Thursday granted collectors the authority to utilize 100% of medical funds available with the District Planning Developme nt Committee (DPDC) for purchase of drugs. Previously, they could use only 10% of it. Additionally, in the wake of the Nanded incident, the health department has decided to urgently buy essential and life-saving medicines to address any potential shortages.
During the pandemic, similar powers were delegated to districts to facilitate emergency purchases. A fixed portion of the DPDC funds is designated for medical supplies. However, districts were only able to expend 10% of this allocation, with the remaining 90% directed toward bulk purchases by Haffkine Biopharmaceutical.
During shortage, dist hosps can now approach collector
A state government circular issued on Thursday ushers in a shift in procurement of medicines, allowing districts to fully utilize their DPDC (District Planning Development Committee) medical budgets at their discretion. TOI recently published a series of reports, shedding light on Haffkine Biopharmaceutical’s failings in centralized procurement, resulting in intermittent shortages of medication at government facilities over the last few years. Further, the newly introduced Maharashtra Medicine Procurement Authority (MMPA), which has replaced Haffkine, has still not managed to get its act together.
Milind Mhaiskar, additional chief secretary of the public health department, said the clause that it is binding to procure medicines through MMPA has been relaxed for now. He said district hospitals and medical colleges can approach the Collector for purchases when they face a shortage. “Even if they require drugs or equipment to the tune of Rs 1-2 crore, it can be provided by the Collector without having to wait for higher approvals,” he said.
It is estimated that there is a collective amount of Rs 250 crore allocated under the medical quota of DPDC. This translates to approximately Rs 7-10 crore in each district’s kitty.
Dr Abhay Shukla of Jan Arogya Abhiyan said though it is a temporary step, it’s retrograde. “Medicine is one commodity that is sensitive to quantity of purchase. If each district buys independently, they will be paying different rates for the same drug,” he said. He added that the government should urgently streamline the centralized procurement body.
Meanwhile, the public health department is auditing their stocks of 150-odd drugs. Mhaiskar said they would be purchasing 20% of the requirement as a buffer, although hospitals currently have stocks to last 30-45 days.
“We will be using the rate contract prices of ESIC to make the purchase. Our own rate contract should be ready by November,” he added. A rate contract is an agreement where the contractor commits to provide materials, regardless of the quantity, at set prices, within a specified timeframe.



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