ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Public Procurement in Medical Supplies

The Case of the Nanded Tragedy

The Nanded government hospital tragedy is analysed in this article, and it is pointed out that there is a need to revisit the system of public procurement of medical supplies. Maharashtra moved from its old procurement system to the Medical Goods Procurement Authority Act, 2023 in March. Despite that, the tragedy took place and is said to have been a result of poor medical supply procurement.

Recently, the Dr Shankarrao Chavan Government Medical College and Hospital in Nanded witnessed a major tragedy—the death of almost 35 patients (including 16 infants) in two days. Following the Nanded event, reports of high mortality in the span of a day at the Ghati Hospital in Aurangabad (also known as Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar) also surfaced, raising concerns about the subpar quality of the state’s healthcare system. Just a few months ago in August 2023, 16 people died in the civil hospital in Thane in one day. Eliciting strong reactions from both the government and media, intense probes and inquiries were ordered by the state government to analyse the situation. Abysmal hospital facilities combined with a severe shortage of medical supplies and staff were the primary reasons that were cited as responsible for the growing crisis (Akhef 2023).

Despite the government’s denial, there are reports that the main cause of so many deaths in the hospital was inadequate medical supplies (Times of India 2023). This is the focus of our inquiry in this article. The Nanded crisis and subsequent deaths in other hospitals across the state highlight the low resilience of the procurement system and its inability to handle demand shocks. It does not appear that successive public health tragedies in Maharashtra are isolated events, particularly when COVID-19 forced the public health infrastructure in the country to plug gaping holes. There is some merit in considering the flaws in the procurement systems, particularly because Maharashtra had promulgated the Medical Goods Procurement Authority Act, in March 2023, overhauling the existing medical supplies procurement in the state.

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Updated On : 31st Jan, 2024
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