Audit reveals Rs 660 crore health equipment scam in Chhattisgarh

A recent audit has revealed major irregularities in the procurement processes of the Chhattisgarh State Medical Services Corporation Limited. The audit, covering the financial years 2022-23 and 2023-24, reveals that medical equipment and reagents worth ₹660 crore were purchased without any corresponding budget allocation. This revelation comes from a letter written by the Accountant General to the Health Department, which NDTV has exclusively obtained.

Key findings of audit

The audit found that the corporation purchased medical equipment and reagents, and distributed them to 776 primary health care (PHC) facilities. Shockingly, more than 350 of these PHCs lacked the technical manpower and storage facilities required to use the equipment effectively.

Further, the audit highlighted that the Director of Health Services placed orders for these items without conducting the necessary baseline surveys or gap analysis to assess the specific needs of each facility. The distribution was uniform across all PHCs, ignoring variations in patient load and specific requirements. This indiscriminate purchasing has resulted in high-value equipment lying unused, risking a decline in the quality of reagents.

Ground Report

At Raipur's Bhatgaon Primary Health Center, state-of-the-art machines like sonography and X-ray were purchased, but they are not working due to the absence of specialist doctors. Dr. Harshita Tekam of the PHC said that basic services like first aid and blood pressure monitoring are available, but until specialists are appointed, advanced machines cannot be used.
At the Urla Primary Health Centre, many chairs are not being used due to lack of space. Paramedical Association president Naresh Sahu criticised the procurement strategy, saying priority should have been given to admitting patients instead of buying expensive equipment. He cited the example of a ₹18 crore PET SCAN gamma machine bought in 2018 for the capital's largest hospital, which is still not working.

Official response

The Principal Accountant General has called for a comprehensive audit involving the Chhattisgarh State Medical Services Corporation, Director of Health Services, National Health Mission and field-level health facilities. The audit aims to highlight the extent of mismanagement and ensure accountability.
This disclosure raises serious questions about the efficiency and transparency of procurement processes in the state's healthcare system. As the investigation progresses, cooperation from all concerned facilities has been requested to facilitate a thorough audit.

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