Hepatitis patients awaiting medicine supply

Apparent shortfall in the province is due to ‘technical issues’ in the procurement drive

Wisal Yousafzai May 15, 2022
Guidelines for treatment with the new drug have been issued for healthcare professionals. PHOTO: EXPRESS


If the high commodity prices and power shortages were not enough, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) is now facing a medicine shortage for patients with Hepatitis B and C; the cherry on top is the price gouging which pharmacies are engaging in to exploit the shortage.

Patients registered with the Hepatitis Control Program have been waiting for their medicines for the last two months but to no avail and now the Express Tribune has learnt that the K-P Health Department has contacted the federal government and the provincial governments of Punjab and Balochistan to provide Hepatitis medicines either on a goodwill or a on a deficit basis to the province.

Director General Health Services K-P has sent letters to the Director General Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination, and to Balochistan and Punjab stating that due to some technical problems the Department of Health Integrated HIV, Hepatitis and Thalassemia Program was not able to send letters and requests for the medicines on time which has created a shortfall and therefore help is required.

The technical problems mentioned in the letter, according to sources in the Health Department privy to the matter, are not technical at all rather it is negligence on the part of the Project Director of the hepatitis control program who did not start the procurement drive in time. The Express Tribune learnt that even though recently the federal government provided medicines for 600 patients they are not enough as the integrated program has 2,100 patients of Hepatitis B and 3,700 of Hepatitis C. The health department sources further informed the Express Tribune that the request sent out was only for the registered patients and the countless unregistered were being left to the mercy of pharmacies which sell the monthly required medication for up to Rs 10,000.

When contacted, Project Director Asghar Khan Jadoon, rubbished the allegations leveled against him. Jadoon informed that a request had been sent out to the federal government about the revision of the PC-1 budget after it was decided in the steering committee chaired by the Secretary Health Department. “No other request has been sent to the federal government or provincial governments. All such claims are wrong and baseless.

We already have Hepatitis medicines available,” an irate Jadoon said. When asked about patients not being able to afford medicines, Jadoon said that there were funds available in the various special initiatives undertaken by the Chief Minister K-P and that the medicine cost for the patients could be adjusted in these. However, he conceded that there had been issues in the release of funds by the federal government which had led to patients facing problems in procurement. “The department is in contact with the federal government and will soon release funds for procurement of medicines for the patients,” Jadoon told The Express Tribune.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2022.


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