Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Vidhan Sabha, Vijender Gupta, on Saturday raised questions against the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Delhi government over the matter of alleged supply of sub-standard medicines to hospitals and dispensaries under its jurisdiction.

The LOP demanded to know which agency was responsible for ensuring quality assurance and what it was doing to ensure that quality drugs and medicines were being supplied to government hospitals.

“Delhi government hospitals are being supplied sub-standard medicines which plays with the lives of the patients. Quality check agency is sleeping. A distributor has himself admitted to having supplied 20,000 strips of sub-standard medicine for heart patients to GB Pant Hospital,” Mr. Gupta alleged.

Distributor’s letter

The Rohini legislator argued that there may be more such cases of supply of sub-standard medicines to Delhi government hospitals which also raise questions about the functioning of the Central Procurement Agency of the Delhi government.

“The distributor, who supplied the medicines to the hospitals, has himself written a letter saying that use of sub-standard medicines supplied by him should be stopped. He also wants to take back the remaining stock of medicines supplied,” he claimed.

Isosorbide Dinitrate is a life saving drug which is used in emergency cases for transferring heart patients from one place to another. This medicine is also used as a vaccine in operation theatres to save lives of heart patients. One can only imagine how risky such a life saving drug can be for heart patients, the LOP argued.

He demanded that Lieutenant-Governor Anil Baijal order an investigation by an independent investigation agency to see what the quality control agency has been doing regarding this “negligence” by the government.

Most people in California and nationwide are catching a strain of influenza known as H3N2, which the flu vaccine typically doesn't work as well against. National health officials say the vaccine might only be about 32% effective this year, which could be contributing to the high number of people falling ill. H3N2 is also a particularly dangerous strain of the flu, experts say.

"It tends to cause more deaths and more hospitalizations than the other strains," said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, L.A. County's interim health officer.

Of extra concern this year are large numbers of older patients who are showing up at hospitals with the flu and pneumonia, a potentially fatal combination. "You have no choice but to admit them and hydrate them on IV antibiotics to prevent God forbid a bad outcome," Ghurabi said.

Each year, the number of flu deaths reported by the state includes only people younger than 65 and therefore underestimates the flu's real toll, since elderly people are most likely to succumb to the illness, experts say. In Los Angeles County, 33 people have died of the flu this season and only a handful were under 65, Gunzenhauser said.

DOHA: Sidra Medicine, a speciality healthcare organisation for children, young people and women and a member of Qatar Foundation, is gearing up with final stage preparations to receive its first in patients next week.

The phased opening of the main hospital building begins on January 14, and will be a six month process. Patients will be initially seen via referrals and by appointment only, says Dr John Ferguson, Chief Medical Officer, Sidra Medicine.

"The Sidra Medicine main hospital will open slowly and steadily. Patient safety is a priority to us besides other aspects. Sidra Medicine is a green-field site and service. We, therefore, need to continually test all aspects as we progressively expand our services to ensure we can provide the best care for our patients, " Ferguson told The Peninsula.

During a recent visit to Sidra Medicine, The Peninsula also learnt about the preparations being made for opening of the hospital.

Simulation activities were being conducted at wards which will receive the first patients while nurses and other staff are undergoing training sessions ahead of receiving the patients.

The first inpatients for both children's and women's services for the main hospital have already been registered and scheduled. Admissions in the first few months will be through the Sidra Medicine Outpatient Clinic and in collaboration with Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC). During the first weeks of opening, Sidra Medicine's inpatient services include pediatric medicine (gastroenterology, endocrinology and adolescent medicine) and elective general surgery for children and young people. The women's service will only be doing elective caesarian deliveries.

All other deliveries (even for patients currently registered and receiving their antenatal care at Sidra Medicine) will be at HMC until the women's services is fully operational by mid-2018. The emergency department at Sidra Medicine will become operational towards mid-2018.

"January 14 we will take our first inpatients. At the first phase of opening if you are referred and have an appointment to Sidra Medicine, then you will be seen here. During the first week, for children's services, patients will be referred from our outpatient clinics, where our surgery team will perform less complicated surgeries. We will do elective caesarean sections in the first few months on women who have already been given appointment," said Ferguson.

Dr John Ferguson, Chief Medical Officer, Sidra Medicine, with nursing staff in a patient room which will receive first inpatients of Sidra Medicine. Pic: Kammutty VP/The Peninsula

"Eventually by mid 2018, we will open the Emergency Department, and that will actually mark the main hospital as fully open," he added.

Over 25,000 babies are born, annually, in Qatar. HMC has handled 17,000 of these births alone. The Sidra Medicine main hospital, as a maternity hospital with an evolving gynaecology service, will share this responsibility with HMC by taking on high fetal acuity or high-risk cases. HMC will continue to provide women's services, especially to the higher risk mothers.

"To ensure patient safety, we will start with low risk procedures at opening, but as we grow so will the complexity of the cases we handle and we will be running fetal maternal medicine services. So high risk pregnancies where the baby is at risk will be transferred here. And if the mother has significant medical conditions, such cases will be cared for at HMC," said Ferguson.

In children's inpatient services in the first few weeks, initially pediatric medicine will be available in gastroenterology, endocrinology and adolescent medicine as well as elective general surgery. Then services will be expanded.

"Eventually we will have the first dedicated pediatric emergency department in Qatar, it will be a full tertiary care emergency department. It will be able to take every type of emergency case for paediatric patients including trauma. Now all pediatric trauma cases go to Hamad General Hospital," said Ferguson.

"We will also handle transplants, high level cardiac and neurology surgeries. Also the age for paediatric care will be increased from 14 years to 18 years," he said.

Sidra Medicine, once fully operational will have 140 clinic rooms, 10 operating theaters, 400 beds, 100 percent single rooms with a private bathroom, a birthing center and emergency department. It will employ 2,000 nurses, 600 doctors and 800 other health care professionals, as well as administrative staff.

Sidra Medicine will handle 275,000 outpatient appointments, 11,000 procedures, 100,000 emergency attendances and deliver more than 9,000 babies annually. Sidra Medicine's outpatient services were launched on May 1, 2016, and now it operates over 50 outpatient clinics and services related to paediatric care for children and young people and maternity care for women.

Sidra Medicine's research programme has been in operation since 2015 and aims to develop world-leading science and research programs that will align with Qatar's national research strategy and also help address other public health issues.