Vyomithram project ailing due to shortage of medicines, funds

The government has not yet issued orders for the resumption of closed mobile clinics in view of the pandemic.

Kerala social security mission project Vayomitram, which benefited people above 65, has stalled due to paucity of medicines and no government order to restart mobile clinics.

The project was implemented to provide health care and support to the elderly living within the limits of corporations, municipalities and some block panchayats in the state. Free medicines, mobile clinics, palliative care, counseling and help desk services were provided under the project.

The initiative received huge support and more than 2 lakh registered people benefited from the project.

However, following the outbreak of COVID-19, the clinics were closed. But despite this, it was ensured that medicine is supplied to the elderly, a district coordinator said on condition of anonymity.

He said that with the support of volunteers across the state, medicines were supplied to the patients even during the pandemic.

Most of the medicines were related to lifestyle diseases, especially helping the sick during the pandemic period. But now, there was a shortage of medicines for the last three months, she said. Besides, they are yet to get a government order to restart the clinics.

Another project coordinator Ramesh (name changed) said paucity of funds was cited for the delay in supply of medicines.

He said there was an outstanding of ₹30 crore, which the social security mission had to pay to the Kerala Medical Services Corporation (KMSCL). He claimed that the delay in release of funds has resulted in shortage of medicines.

There are two medical teams in the municipal limits and one for each municipality. A team of a doctor, nurse and junior public health nurse organizes camps to test people and prescribe medicines, which are given through volunteers.

“Many drugs are related to lifestyle diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. They were given free of cost. But due to shortage, people are being asked to buy them from outside,” said Ranish, who volunteers to distribute medicines to people in Iritty municipality.

He said that a lot of inquiries were being made from people for medicines.

Social Security Mission executive director M. Anjana was not available for comments.

However, Assistant Director P. Sheriff said that every year, an increase in the number of beneficiaries was observed and the plan funding of ₹24 crore was insufficient to meet the growing demand.

The issue was under serious consideration of the Government and after its intervention, ₹12 crore was released to KMSCL to continue supplying the drug. More steps were being taken to address the financial crisis.

He said the camp could not be organized due to the pandemic situation. He said that as a solution, the contact numbers of the doctors were provided to the patients, which helped them to get in touch with the doctors directly.

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