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Illegal trade in stents, pacemakers alleged at NEIGRIHMS
Staff correspondent
 SHILLONG, May 1 - Authorities of the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS) here have busted an “illegal business” of stents and pacemakers, allegedly carried out by the head of the Cardiology department of the hospital.

The department head, Dr Animesh Mishra, was allegedly asking patients to purchase “costly stents and pacemakers” from a private vendor instead of government institutions. Dr Mishra has, however, denied the allegations.

The illegal trade was unearthed on Tuesday morning when a vendor “carrying four bags full of stents and pacemakers was heading towards Cath Lab.” The vendor was intercepted by security persons and the matter was brought to the notice of the Director of the NEIGRIHMS.

The chief security officer and the chief vigilance officers took serious cognizance of the illegal trade in the hospital and “cheating of poor patients by the vendor with the help of HoD, Cardiology”.

“We have known about this illegal trade going on in the hospital for a long time,” Dr DM Thapa, NEIGRIHMS Director, told The Assam Tribune.

Now there is evidence of this illegal trade, he added. “We have photographs and other evidence, which we would not like to reveal at this moment,” he said.

According to Dr Thapa, a Central Government notification states costly medicines and items for poor patients should be procured from government and Amrit pharmacies within the hospital premises out of the revolving hospital fund.

“The various departments were asked to hand over their priority lists so that the procurement committee could purchase common and important medicines and products in the Amrit and government pharmacies, but Dr Mishra and others never produced the list nor attended meetings held in this regard,” Dr Thapa alleged.

The NEIGRIHMS Director maintained that some doctors were “afraid” that he would “expose their illegal trade” and so they have been up in arms against him since the past few months.

Moreover, two complaints were sent from the Prime Minister’s Office to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and forwarded to the NEIGRIHMS, regarding the exorbitant rates paid by cardiology patients for treatment at the NEIGRIHMS due to the costly stents.

Accordingly, an advisory of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was displayed at the OPD to inform patients to get costly items from the Amrit pharmacy rather than from private vendors.

“The Amrit pharmacy has assured to make the costly items available to patients within 48 hours, if not available,” Dr Thapa said.

On the other hand, denying the allegations, Dr Mishra, while talking to The Assam Tribune, refused to speak further on the matter, stating that the Director has asked him not to speak to the media. “My freedom of speech has been gagged,” he complained.

Meanwhile, the NEIGRIHMS Director has appealed to the public to cooperate at this crucial moment so that the “menace of illegal practices is curbed once and for all”. He has also warned the HoD of Cardiology that he should be personally responsible for any unwanted situation in the department as he is “preventing other doctors and paramedics from performing their legitimate duties”.

The administration is taking all measures to streamline services in the Cardiology department,” Dr Thapa added.

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