One in five government-run dispensaries without meds

Report notes that investment in medicine supply, services, equipment and infrastructure is seriously warranted.

Express July 03, 2011

One in five government-run dispensaries do not have medicines.

This was mentioned in the Free And Fair Election Network (Fafen) Health Institution Monitor released here on Sunday. Fafen teams visited 81 dispensaries in 57 districts nationwide in May — 38 in 25 districts in Punjab, 21 in 14 districts in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 18 in 14 districts in Sindh, three in three districts in Balochistan and one in Islamabad Capital Territory.

The report noted that investment in medicine supply, services, equipment and infrastructure is seriously warranted since the dispensaries observed by Fafen showed a worrying lack of capacity to provide safe treatment to patients. The report said the government needs to invest more in state-run dispensaries in the healthcare infrastructure, to enable them to effectively cope with basic medical needs of the people.

Sterilisers were not available in almost two-thirds of the monitored facilities, while a quarter of those observed did not have syringe cutters. Lack of such basic equipment can result in reuse of syringes and unsafe use of equipment, putting patients at risk of serious infections.

Besides equipment and services, many dispensaries also lacked basic infrastructure. The buildings of one-third of the observed facilities were not in good conditions, around two-fifths did not have waiting areas while nearly half (48 per cent) of the monitored dispensaries did not have washrooms for patients. More than half (51 per cent) of the monitored dispensaries lacked arrangements for clean drinking water for patients.

The poor condition and operational capacity of many dispensaries, coupled with the fact that there is hardly any oversight by elected and public officials suggests that state-run dispensaries are suffering neglect. Only 36 visits by elected and public officials were recorded in 81 monitored dispensaries during past three months (February - April 2011).

While there was hardly any issue of understaffing in monitored dispensaries, there was a serious issue of transparency in information sharing. The staff of dispensaries either did not have or withheld the information about sanctioned and appointed staff in the facilities from Fafen.

Information about doctors’ appointments was withheld by more than half (41) of the monitored dispensaries. While 37 monitored facilities did not share information about female paramedical staff those who shared had 96 per cent occupancy rate. Nationwide, 17 per cent of patients who were interviewed said that they were not getting free medicines from the in-house pharmacy as per the doctor’s prescription.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2011.


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