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Mumbai: KEM hospital facing medicine shortage, BMC claims problem would be resolved shortly

by Pragati Singh

The King Edward Memorial (KEM) hospital in Parel, Mumbai’s largest civic-run hospital, is experiencing intermittent availability of some life-saving medications as well as a severe scarcity of gloves and cotton, among other things. The hospital has been procuring drugs locally for the previous two months, despite assurances from the BMC that the issue would be resolved in a matter of days.

Every year, over 7 lakh patients visit KEM Hospital’s Outpatient Department (OPD). Every year, around 90,000 people are admitted to hospitals for treatment. In 2019, the hospital performed 24,413 major procedures and 35,146 minor surgeries.

Despite having such a large influx of patients, the hospital has been dealing with an erratic supply of emergency medicines—used to treat patients suffering from cardiac arrest and trauma—for the previous two months. The Indian Express has learned that the hospital is now suffering from an antibiotic scarcity.

Ganesh Upadhyay, 43, was brought to the hospital following a traffic accident in which a car collided with his motorcycle. The collision smashed the Kalbadevi resident’s right hand. However, because the hospital did not have a tetanus shot, the family was instructed to purchase it elsewhere on their own.

It wasn’t only the TT injection; we had to acquire seven of the nine necessary drugs from outside since the hospital didn’t have them,” said Sanjay Upadhyay, Upadhyay’s son.

In fact, the hospital is running low on medications and nutritional supplements. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Central Purchase Department (CPD) is in charge of supplying pharmaceuticals to civic-run hospitals. However, sources claim that the department has not delivered the necessary drugs in the previous two months owing to late tendering during the COVID-19 epidemic. Officials stated that they did not get bids, further delaying the process, which normally takes three months.

In addition, therapeutic items such as cotton and gloves are in short supply. “This usually happens at the conclusion of the fiscal year, but this time we’ve been battling for over two months.” “We don’t have basic facilities like gloves, which are critical given the current pandemic,” remarked a hospital doctor. To accommodate demand, the hospital has purchased medications and resources from local suppliers. However, the hospital’s money was depleted in January. Later, the BMC gave extra funding to purchase equipment, medications, and other necessities. “We forwarded the drug requirement to the CPD, but we have yet to get it.”

We have purchased medications worth roughly Rs 3 lakh in the last two months, since the conclusion of the third wave. However, owing to strong demand, it was sold out in less than a week. “We’re waiting for the next stock,” stated a hospital officer.

According to the city authorities, the issue would be resolved within 2-3 days, according to “We have requested the deans of the medical colleges to make the purchase on our behalf.” “We haven’t set a limit on their purchase,” said Suresh Kakani, BMC’s additional commissioner.

The physicians also noted that when the pandemic curve flattened, the number of non-Covid patients at the hospital climbed dramatically. Because of the epidemic, many people avoided going to the hospital, so now they’re coming to the hospital, which is already overcrowded, said another doctor from the medical department.

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