Public Health care on sub-standard equipment?
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Last Updated: Sunday, November 13, 2011, 17:26
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 website.

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 Act.

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.


First Published: Sunday, November 13, 2011, 17:26

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