Having dismissed all media exposure of drug shortages in hospitals, the Ministry of Health has finally responded by requesting the public to make complaints directly to the ministry by telephone.
Media exposure in the health sector is not intended to discredit the government or the President. When M. H. Fowzie was Health Minister, there was exposure of contaminated saline given to patients. The minister responded, saying the patients had the right to reject contaminated saline. But how can a semi-conscious patient reject what is being administered to him? If he rejects the treatment, he will be discharged and the matter will be forgotten.
Then there was the much publicised case of dated medical equipment, which were past their expiry dates, being used for blood transfusions. Denying, the state then ordered a secret inquiry. We were not told what action was taken and who was responsible.
Then came the case of the contaminated vaccines, which were found to contain elements of “broken glass and sediment”. This charge too was denied and treated as part of an international conspiracy to discredit the country.
The minister said the burden of explaining should be on the doctors on the evaluation board, not on him, as minister. When samples of contaminated vaccines, collected from all over the island, were shown on TV, the minister ordered an investigation. The result was that six drug companies were banned for two years. However, these same companies were asked to replace the stocks of rejected vaccines.
Most of the malpractices exposed at state institutions, along with the damning evidence, is rejected. Neither private nor state TV channels, will ever expose these malpractices.
It is time to activate the Hospital Welfare Societies, which monitor hospital out-patient departments and wards, make sure there is water in the hospital toilets, and report drugs and other shortages to the Ministry.