Amidst Acute Shortage of Covid Drugs, 863 Life-Saving Remdesivir Injections Stolen in Bhopal

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Thieves break into storeroom of state-run Hamidia Hospital to steal the most sought-after drug meant for Covid Patients; police clueless

Pervez Bari | Clarion India

BHOPAL – A total of 863 life-saving Remdesivir injections meant for Covid patients have been stolen from state-run Hamidia Hospital here. This was discovered on Saturday by hospital staff when they went to the storeroom to seek the drug. They found that 18 boxes containing these injections were missing. The thieves did not steal any other drug or medical item from the storeroom. The police have concluded that the thieves had only one target – Remdesivir.

Madhya Pradesh Minister for Medical Education Vishwas Sarang, Divisional Commissioner Kavindra Kiyawat, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Irshad Wali and other senior officials rushed to the spot after the news broke. Sarang, the minister, said that an inquiry into the incident was underway. He said they would ensure such incidents were not repeated in future.

The stock of 1,500 Remdesivir injections was supplied to Hamidia Hospital on Thursday by the Bhopal district administration. While nearly half the injections were used, the remaining 863 injections were stored in the Central Medical Store (Kendriya Aushadhi Bhandar) from where the thieves made off with the injections kept in 18 boxes. According to reports, after the theft, there is no injection left in Hamidia Hospital and the district administration has to ensure immediate supply. Each patient requires 6 injections. The missing stock could have been used on 145 patients.

The storeroom of the hospital was closed around 7 in the evening on Saturday. Its grill has been broken by the thieves. However, the police are clueless as they could not find any CCTV footage from the spot. The police also suspect someone from the staff is involved in the crime. The Hamidia Hospital administration carried out searches inside the compound, but to no avail. The shortage of Remdesivir had made headlines in local media.

The government has fallen short of Remdesivir and several patients have died in the past for lack of it. The injections are being sold at 10 times higher rates in the black market due to the shortage.

Meanwhile, Bhopal’s private hospitals are facing an acute shortage of Remdesivir. Family members of Covid patients are running from pillar to post for this injection. The Health Department has ordered stockists to supply the injection directly to hospitals. Even then, the crisis has not been resolved. Remdesivir injection is given for protection of lungs from Covid virus. But now, it is being given after a certain stage of the Covid patients.

As per private hospitals, if 40 Remdesivir injections are demanded from the stockists, only 10 injections are supplied. This is the condition of Remdesivir supply in the state capital. It is a challenging task for private hospitals to make arrangements for the injection.

Earlier, the government had taken control of the supply of Remdesivir and the private hospitals were supplied as per their requirements. Now, the stockists have been instructed to supply directly to the private hospitals.

According to Dr. Subodh Varshney of a private Siddhanta Hospital there is an acute crisis of Remdesivir injection. Even after direct supply from stockists, the crisis remains. Private hospitals are not getting injections as per requirements.

Alarming situation in small towns

Madhya Pradesh has witnessed a 10-fold increase in Covid cases during the last one month. On March 15, there were 5,024 active cases in Madhya Pradesh. A month on, there are a total of 59,183 active cases in the state.

Reports coming from small towns and districts of Madhya Pradesh are alarming. Hospitals are finding it hard to manage the rising number of Covid cases. There are 18 districts where the number of cases is more than 1,000. Because of the mounting corona patients, the health system in the districts is staggering. Besides Bhopal, Indore, Gwalior and Jabalpur, the condition of seven districts is worsening with each passing day.

The number of cases has crossed 1,000 in Ujjain, Ratlam, Sagar, Rewa, Khargone, Vidisha, Betul, Rewa, Narsinghpur, Balaghat, Katni, Raisen, Rajgarh and Shahapur. In these small districts, the health services count on district hospitals and nursing homes.

The patients are not getting proper treatment. They are coming from nearby cities and villages. Nevertheless, there are many who have not been tested. Such patients are not on records. Because of the rising number of patients, beds in hospitals, as well as other medical facilities, are not available in these districts. There is also a lack of facilities in the districts where medical colleges were set up.

Local doctors advise the patients to go to Bhopal or to Indore for treatment. Those who are seriously ill are moving from one place to another to save their lives. Residents of the districts where doctors are not available are left to the mercy of God.

Former minister Sukhdev Panse says the condition of patients in Betul has worsened. According to him, the Coronavirus is consuming more than 100 lives every day, but the government is hiding the figures of death. Panse says beds, oxygen and ventilators are not available, as the hospitals are not being given funds for buying medicine and equipment.

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