Kerala’s Healthcare Crossroads: A Crisis Unveiled

Navigating the Challenges of Medication Shortages and Financial Strains in Kerala

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala is engulfed in an upsetting medical emergency. The state’s government hospitals are severely short on medications due to a lack of funding. The resounding allegations attribute this dire situation to insufficient funds for critical health and safety schemes. In the recent assembly session, the predicament laid bare its glaring repercussions. The opposition passionately voiced concerns over the scarcity of essential drugs.

Key Points: 

  • Healthcare Crisis: Kerala is grappling with a severe shortage of medicines in government hospitals. Its alleged non-allocation of funds for health and safety schemes, as raised in a recent assembly session.
  • Financial Strain on Health Schemes: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit reveals alarming statistics, with 62,826 drugs unavailable in 67 hospitals. The due amounts, totaling 1353 crores, have led to the discontinuation of treatments in government and private hospitals.
  • Deteriorating Karunya Health and Safety Scheme: Critical health schemes like Karunya, promising free treatment of up to Rs 5 lakh per year, face financial challenges. Private hospitals withdrew from the scheme due to arrears affecting public and private institutions. 

A recent Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit fueled the fire, revealing a shocking revelation. In a staggering 62,826 instances across 67 hospitals, crucial medications were unavailable. Astonishingly, these vital drugs remained elusive in some hospitals for up to 1745 days. The Health Minister, Veena George, countered these claims, asserting that essential medicines are accessible in all hospitals. However, the assurance of a meager quarter percent more in case of shortages raises eyebrows. This is particularly true for local purchases through the Karunya scheme, especially considering the financial crisis plaguing health and safety initiatives.

Dismal Dues Dilemma

Due to overdue amounts from health and safety schemes, discontinuing treatment in government and private hospitals has become an unfortunate norm. The government owes a staggering 1353 crores in outstanding payments across various healthcare initiatives. This is leaving public and private institutions with financial uncertainty.

Private hospitals, facing the brunt of these arrears, have begun withdrawing from the schemes altogether. This withdrawal exacerbates the plight of government hospitals, which find themselves unable to procure essential medicines and implants for patients relying on these schemes. The looming expiration of contracts in March further complicates matters, with private hospitals demanding a staggering 400 crores.

Patients facing ailments not catered to by government facilities must turn to private institutions. The prolonged waiting times for surgeries in government hospitals push individuals towards private healthcare, where Karunya scheme arrears create additional hurdles. The inability to opt out of the scheme leaves government hospitals in a bind. It forces patients to source medicines and implants from private pharmacies and Karunya Pharmacy.

Karunya Health and Safety Scheme: Ailing Finances, Ailing Lives

Families are promised free treatment worth Rs 5 lakh annually under the Karunya Arogya Suraksha Yojana. However, a cloud of uncertainty looms as hospitals question their ability to fulfill these promises without receiving their dues. Similar difficulties face the Karunya Benevolent Plan, which provides up to Rs 2 lakh for medical care, particularly for serious conditions including cancer, hemophilia, kidney problems, and heart problems.

Financial troubles mar Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, who promises medical assistance up to Rs. 5 lakhs per year for cardholder families. Families with an annual income of less than three lakh are not eligible for the Karunya Health and Safety Scheme. They receive up to two lakh rupees from the Karunya Benevolent Fund.

The healthcare quagmire extends to schemes catering to children, such as the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK) scheme, which is grappling with a due amount of 5,95,67,784. Additionally, arrears under the Arogya Kiranam Scheme for comprehensive healthcare of children, the Hridhyam scheme for heart disease, the Awas scheme for non-state workers, the Amma Yum Kunju Yojana for mother and baby healthcare, and the Surkritam scheme for cancer treatment for BPLs, paint a bleak picture of a crumbling healthcare system.

Residents’ health and safety are at risk while the government struggles with budgetary restraints. The people of Kerala are left grappling with a system on the edge of collapse as the promises of easily accessible and reasonably priced healthcare have not materialized. The healthcare system is at risk of abandonment, necessitating immediate action for its preservation. The question yet stands: Is it possible for the government to turn around this broken healthcare system and restore the confidence of its constituents? Time will tell.

Rohit Sharma

Rohit Sharma is a seasoned Political Journalist with a deep passion for Indian Politics. With over a decade of experience in the field, he has established himself as a trusted… More »

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