Public Health care on sub-standard equipment?

The AIIMS said, high quality medical equipment lose to cheaper alternatives during bidding process.

New Delhi: Fundamental flaws in procurement
procedure and lack of standards in supply of medical equipment
for maternal and neo-natal care is resulting in entry of
"unsafe, non-standard equipment" into the market, the AIIMS has told the Central Information Commission.

The prestigious institute said high quality medical
equipment lose to cheaper alternatives during bidding process
resulting in accidents like babies getting killed in
short-circuits in incubators.

"There are no standards for such equipments and no
regulation barring entry of unsafe, non-standard equipment
into the market. Faulty equipment can end up burning itself
and the baby it holds. There are fundamental flaws in these
procurement procedures," Dr Vinod Paul, representing Director
AIIMS told the CIC during a hearing.

He said there was a Medical Devices Regulatory Authority
bill circulated in 2006, but there has not been much
movement in this regard.

Taking serious note of it, Information Commissioner
Shailesh Gandhi directed the Health Secretary to ensure that
purchase and maintenance details of medical equipment costing
over one lakh and neo-natal warmers and incubators, purchased
after April 1, 2007 should be posted on the Health Ministry

The case relates to a complaint filed by an RTI applicant
Anushree Jain who said Health Ministry should publish these
details on its website as per obligations of suo-moto
disclosure under the provisions of the Right to Information

During the hearing, Jain contended that there have been a
large number of cases where due to poor maintenance of
equipment used for neo-natal care infants had died due to
equipment failure.

Hearing the arguments of both sides, Gandhi opined, "It
is accepted that there are widespread issues, putting up
information in the public domain would perhaps create a
pressure on the concerned authorities".

"The idea of the Commission being that the information
published would get the citizens at large to view the same and
inform the concerned superior authorities in case of any
mismanagement etc," Gandhi pointed out.

He ordered the Health Secretary to send a circular to all
state governments to make public on its website and individual
websites of respective health Institutes this category of
information which should be regularly updated on the 10th of
every month.

Gandhi directed the Health Secretary to comply with these
orders before May 10, 2012.

Earlier, another AIIMS representative Sidartha Satpathy
said the equipments manufactured in the United States of
America and the European Union generally conform to good
quality standards.

"However, there are only very few organisations in India
which are experienced in the sale and maintenance of such
equipment. That in India, any person can start distributing
medical equipments, as there is no law specifying standards,"
he said.

Satpathy argued that since AIIMS uses a large number of
patient care equipments and it will be very difficult to put
these on the website but later agreed that equipment used in
neo-natal care and those costing above one lakh can be placed
on the website.


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