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Union Home Ministry Initiates CBI Probe Into Alleged Supply Of Substandard Medicines In Delhi Hospitals

The Union Home Ministry has initiated a CBI inquiry into the alleged distribution of substandard medicines in Delhi government hospitals, including mohalla clinics, following concerns raised by the Lt Governor about potential threats to patient safety.

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Inauguration of 5 mohalla clinics in Delhi
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The Delhi government's flagship healthcare initiative, known as the mohalla clinics, is currently under scrutiny as the Union Home Ministry has taken a significant step by ordering a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into allegations of irregularities related to the procurement of sub-standard medicines in Delhi government hospitals and mohalla clinics.

This investigation comes in the wake of concerns raised by Delhi Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena, who had called for a CBI inquiry following complaints about fake lab tests and the existence of ghost patients at the mohalla clinics. The inquiry is expected to involve multiple parties from various states, including the Central Procurement Agency (CPA-DHS), suppliers, manufacturers, and state agencies.

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The alleged irregularities were brought to light after patients and their families lodged complaints, prompting authorities to collect samples from major hospitals such as IHBAS, Lok Nayak, and Deen Dayal Upadhyay. Subsequent analysis revealed that essential medications, including antibiotics, steroids, anti-anxiety, anti-epilepsy, and anti-hypertension drugs, were of substandard quality. The Drug Controller initiated an investigation into these reports, finding that over 10 percent of the tested samples failed quality control tests.

The Directorate of Vigilance recommended an expansion of the testing scope and an immediate halt to the distribution of failed drugs. Additionally, it suggested blacklisting companies involved in the supply chain of substandard medications. The situation escalated as an inquiry exposed unethical practices at mohalla clinics, including fraudulent attendance marking and the use of fake mobile numbers for lab tests.

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In response to these findings, the Delhi government took action by de-empanelling 26 staffers, including seven doctors, at mohalla clinics in September 2023. However, Delhi Health Minister Saurabh Bharadwaj criticized the lack of action against the health secretary, emphasizing that officials should be held responsible for the situation.

The order for a CBI inquiry by the Union Home Ministry has sparked a political response, with Saurabh Bharadwaj from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accusing the central government of attempting to shield the health secretary. While expressing a willingness to cooperate with the CBI inquiry, Bharadwaj insisted that the central government was not addressing the core issues at hand.

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