Srinagar: One of Kashmir’s major health institutions, the SMHS Hospital in Srinagar, is running short of an emergency blood product, Factor VIII, for the past one year. The J&K Medical Supplies Corporation (JKMSCL) has ignored several reminders by the SMHS administration to supply the crucial blood factor necessary to cure hemophilia disorders.
According to doctors at SMHS, only 20 hemophilia patients are able to get the blood-clotting factor at the Hemophilia Day Care Centre of the hospital, while more than 250 registered hemophilia patients are in want of it for more than a year.
“The medical supplies corporation didn’t bother to procure Factor VIII and Factor VII since 2015, meant for patients who are facing its deficiency in blood. There are a total 287 hemophilia patients registered with the SMHS Hospital,” a doctor at the Day Care Centre said.
Sources told Kashmir Reader that hemophilia patients, especially those reaching the hospital at night, are at risk of death because of the unavailability of blood-clotting factor.
“People accompanying the critical patients are forced to buy blood factors from the open market, which costs them dearly. The hospital always faces shortage of Factor VIII for which there is a huge requirement of more than 30 vials per day,” a doctor said.
A pharmacist said that the factor, which costs nearly Rs 2 lakh per patient for the full course, ran out of stock in 2015. “The medical supplies corporation didn’t purchase it because of the absence of a rate contract,” he said.
Other blood components, like Factor IX and Von Willebrand Factor, are also short in supply, according to sources.
Last week, a 3-year-old girl from Tangdhar was admitted to SKIMS Soura in critical condition after suffering gastrointestinal bleeding. She is still battling for life at the hospital due to the absence of Von Willebrand Factor in SMHS hospital.
A teenage hemophilic boy from Tangmarg, who was injured last year while playing cricket, died due to non-availability of the life-saving drug in SMHS Hospital.
Patients said that Factor VIII was not being provided to them at SMHS or any other hospital. “We have urged the authorities several times to take immediate steps to save us from further complications. In the absence of Factor VIII, patients are administered Fresh Frozen Plasma, which exposes them to risks of infections such as Hepatitis and HIV,” said Adil Ahmad, a patient.
Managing Director of JKMSCL, Dr Inderjeet Bhagat, admitted that there had been inordinate delay in the supply of Factor VIII to SMHS Hospital.
“The bidding process for purchasing Factor VIII couldn’t be completed due to some technical and legal hassles. Now, we are in the process of finalising the procurement process. It will take some time but till then, hospitals will be given NOCs (No-Objection Certificates) to go ahead with bulk purchases locally,” he said.