Rajasthan's free medicine scheme benefits 200,000 people daily

Last Updated: Sun, Oct 07, 2012 12:12 hrs

Jaipur: The free medicine scheme launched by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot a year ago on Mahatma Gandhi's birth anniversary Oct 2 has seen a footfall of 70 million people at the distribution centres, officials said Sunday.

"Two lakh (200,000) people take advantage of this scheme every day. Some patients have benefitted more than once. They are being given free essential medicines at 15,355 medicine distribution centres and in all the government hospitals," a senior official said.

Rajasthan has a population of 68.6 million people, and is the first to run the free medicine scheme on such a large scale, the official claimed.

"In the second year of the scheme, the state government has allocated Rs.300 crore. The chief minister has also directed that the number of distribution centres and the medicines being given under the scheme also be increased."

Nearly 400 types of generic drugs and surgical items are available for free distribution under the existing scheme. These drugs are provided free of charge to patients at primary healthcare centres, community healthcare centres, district hospitals and medical colleges, officials said.

Apart from the free medicine, the government is also planning to make free diagnostic tests at the hospitals run by it.

Chief Minister Gehlot has already assured that there would not be any problem in financing any health-related scheme. "If the people are given free medicines and good care, their trust in government hospitals will increase," the chief minister said recently.

Addressing a workshop recently, he also said that the results of the scheme were very encouraging and the central government was planning to implement the scheme across the country based on the success of the Rajasthan model.

The number of patients visiting government-run hospitals has gone by up by almost 50 percent in the last one year, largely due to the free medicine scheme. The chief minister also recently launched a helpline to prove information about the scheme.

"Every member of the society is eligible. The poor are given priority. Persons below the poverty line and weaker sections can shed their worries over healthcare expenses," a health department official said.

The scheme was officially launched Oct 2, 2011 on Mahatma Gandhi's 142nd birth anniversary.

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