NEW DELHI: India’s ambitious policy to provide free medicines to all patients attending a government health facility across the country will be rolled out from October.
Strongly backed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh himself, the free-medicines-for-all scheme — being referred to as the “real game changer” — has received its first financial allocation of Rs 100 crore from the Planning Commission for 2012-13.
The entire programme, however, is estimated to cost Rs 28,560 crore over the 12th five year plan.
At present, the public sector provides healthcare to 22% of the country’s population.
The ministry estimates that this will increase to 52% by 2017 once medicines are provided for free from 1.6 lakh sub-centres, 23,000 primary health centres, 5,000 community health centres and 640 district hospitals.
The ministry has sent the National List of Essential Medicines, 2011, (348 drugs which includes anti-AIDS, analgesics, anti-ulcers, anti psychotic, sedatives, anesthetic agents, lipid lowering agents, steroids and anti platelet drugs) to all the states to use as reference.