Weak supply policy behind health sector’s anarchy

24 October 2021

Reza Mahmud :
Weak procurement policies hinder the procurement of the country's health sector's heavy equipment, say the experts.
They blamed the deficient price stipulation system and procurement anomalies for anarchy in purchase.
Officials of the health authorities said, there are 'schedule rates (SR)' in medical and surgical requisite (MSR) for procuring different medical items for use in the hospitals and upazila health complexes.
As a result, in the budget the amount so sanctioned in the budget for buying MSR logistics for hospitals are not used are not spent properly.  But in case of procurement in other sectors, there are schedule of rates fixed for assessing prices of different work including procurement and constructions.
But, in case of health sector procurement there is no such SR. As a result, most of the allocated amount for procuring heavy equipment returned to the government unspent.
As a result, the health sector is suffering most from lack of sufficient logistics. Patients are the most sufferers in these circumstances, even after sufficient allocation from the government.
On the other hand, anarchies and scams were also found during the world wide covid-19 pandemic in connection with the procurement of different emergency equipments.
Public health experts said, lack of concrete policies also play role behind such anarchies.
When contacted, Professor Dr. Be-Nazir Ahmed, former Director of disease control of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare told The New Nation on Friday, "There is no Schedule  of Rate for procuring heavy and emergency equipment for health sector. Besides, there are no procurement specialists also."
He said that is why crisis prevail in the said sector in connection with procuring most important medical machinery.  The Professor said, it may not be resolved through taking small measures, but it needs big steps like help from nationally and internationally experienced people.
One of the former officials of the health ministry said, they bought a RT- PCR machine from the USA for TK 38 lakh in 2007.  But the China origin was found selling at Tk 16 lakh only in the same time.
A China made anesthesia machine can be bought at Tk seven to 10 lakh while the same item made in Japan, EU and the USA are selling at Tk 35 to 40 lakh in markets.
Lack of procurement specialists, desk officials or accountants has been given responsibilities for purchasing equipment.
In such cases, if any officials give priority of saving money they may procure a machine with less money. But, those may not be sustainable and might be inefficient within months.
As a result, another machine may have to be bought within a short time. "In such cases, responsible officials fall in hesitation and most of time they may return money instead of procuring necessary equipment," the former official said.

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