Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Thursday said his government plans to provide free diagnostic tests to all patients in government hospitals in the wake of the overwhelming response to the free medicine scheme launched last year.
"Our aim is to ensure that the medical tests in the government hospitals should be conducted free of cost," Gehlot said at the national conference on universal access to essential medicines in India here.
Gehlot also hailed the success of the free generic medicine supply scheme, saying the number of patients visiting government hospitals has increased by 50 percent.
"Even today, medical treatment in private hospitals is costly. However, through the scheme of free generic medicine supply, the number of patients visiting the government hospitals has increased by 50 per cent. This clearly indicates that the scheme has been successful," said Gehlot.
A key challenge to expanding the programme is that India's public health system is already under-funded and struggles to meet the needs of 1.2 billion people, 40 percent of whom live below the poverty line of 1.25 dollar a day.
Tamil Nadu is one of two Indian states offering free medicine for all. The state provides a glimpse of the hurdles India faces as it embarks on a programme to extend free drug coverage nationwide.
Medical treatment can be a luxury in a country where annual public spending on healthcare totals just 4.50 dollar. Public health facilities are often overcrowded and understaffed, and many Indians must travel hours to reach one. (ANI)