Govt Starts Work on Free Medicine Dis­tri­bu­tion at Pub­lic Hos­pi­tals

BEST REM­EDY Project to cost 28, 580 cr in 12th plan; min­is­ter to re­vive cen­tral coun­cil of health

The Economic Times - - Economy - OUR BUREAU

The govern­ment will soon start work on dis­tribut­ing free medicines through pub­lic hos­pi­tals across the coun­try, health min­is­ter Harsh Vard­han said on Fri­day, re­viv­ing a plan that for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh had promised in his In­de­pen­dence Day speech in 2012 but did not im­ple­ment due to ap­par­ent lack of re­sources. Vard­han plans to re­vive the cen­tral coun­cil of health (CCH), a body that com­prises health min­is­ters of all states in the coun­try as well as ex­perts, to take the dis­cus­sion for­ward on firm­ing up the model to im­ple­ment the pro­gramme. The min­is­ter de­cided this in a meet­ing that he had held with se­nior health min­istry of­fi­cials on the pre­vi­ous day. “I am sure my col­league health min­is­ters in the states are keen to en­sure the suc­cess of this pro­gramme,” Vard­han said, adding that de­spite the Cab­i­net’s for­mal nod in May 2013, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­gramme re­mained re­stricted to a few hos­pi­tals in big cities be­cause the in­fra­struc­ture for pro­cure­ment and dis­tri­bu­tion was not put in place. Health econ­o­mists have lauded the new govern­ment’s move to pri­ori­tise the pro­gramme. “The plan has been in the mak­ing for the last three years. If im­ple­mented ef­fec­tively, it will sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce out-of-pocket ex­pen­di­ture in the coun­try. The Tamil Nadu and Ra­jasthan model should be repli­cated in the other states,” said pub­lic health ex­pert Sak­thivel Sel­varaj. Ac­cord­ing to Plan­ning Com­mis­sion’s es­ti­mates, a coun­try­wide free generic drug pro­gramme will cost .` 28,560 crore dur­ing the 12th five- ap­provals, the pro­gramme was re­stricted to a few hos­pi­tals in big cities till now lakh sub-cen­tres com­mu­nity health cen­tres pri­mary health cen­tres district hos­pi­tals VE­HI­CLES TO IM­PLE­MENT THE PLAN: Na­tional Ru­ral Health Mis­sion & Na­tional Ur­ban Health Mis­sion year plan pe­riod. The Cen­tre will bear 75% of the cost while the states will chip in with the rest. Un­der the orig­i­nal plan, 348 drugs listed in the Na­tional List of Es­sen­tial Medicines were to be pro­vided free at 1.6 lakh sub-cen­tres, 23,000 pri­mary health cen­tres, 5,000 com­mu­nity health cen­tres and 640 district hos­pi­tals.

Vard­han said on Fri­day that stan­dard treat­ment pro­to­cols would be de­vel­oped in con­sul­ta­tion with ex­perts to check ir­ra­tional ad­min­is­tra­tion of drugs. The “Delhi Model” of first dis­cern­ing the es­sen­tial from the fluff, which Vard­han over­saw as health min­is­ter of Delhi be­tween 1993 and 1998 may be re­ferred to while giv­ing fi­nal shape to the na­tional pro­gramme. The Na­tional Health Mis­sion (NHM)’s two sub-mis­sions – the flag­ship pro­gramme of the pre­vi­ous Congress-led UPA govern­ment’s Na­tional Ru­ral Health Mis­sion (NRHM) and Na­tional Ur­ban Health Mis­sion (NUHM) – will serve as ve­hi­cles for im­ple­men­ta­tion of the pro­gramme. “The NHM will be heav­ily e-gov­erned to en­sure min­i­mum slip­page and zero cor­rup­tion. The de­spair faced by poor and the mid­dle-class fam­i­lies when a mem­ber falls ill would be­come a thing of the past,” Vard­han said. The NRHM has been bogged down in un­fore­seen prob­lems while the NUHM is a non-starter, he added. The min­is­ter also re­ferred to in­sti­tu­tion­al­i­sa­tion of Ac­cred­ited So­cial Health Ac­tivists (ASHA) work­ers as one of his top pri­or­i­ties. These ac­tivists are yet to get fixed wages and there are many im­ped­i­ments to their smooth func­tion­ing, he said, an­nounc­ing his plans to hold a meet­ing with ASHA work­ers to un­der­stand their prob­lems at first hand.

Govt says

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