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Railways' planned 7,000 health centres to sell cheap drugs, sanitary pads

Initiative is part of National Health Protection Scheme proposed in Budget 2018, covering 500 mn people from lower-income strata

BS Web Team  |  New Delhi 

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Indian may soon launch primary healthcare centres with stores and at about 7,000 railway stations across the country, according to an Economic Times  report. This comes as a part of efforts to boost the National Protection Scheme proposed in Budget 2018-19. The scheme is the largest care initiative ever, covering a population 500 million from the lower-income strata.

The Railway Ministry proposes to allow its infrastructure to be used for providing primary care services at affordable prices. A senior Railway Ministry official, who did not wish to be identified, told ET, "We have got a robust network across the country including in villages that can be used by the Centre to take preventive and primary healthcare to the last mile." 

The Railway Ministry is working with the and Family Welfare Ministry to chalk out the details of the plan. This could entail inviting private sector participation for setting up basic diagniostic centres.

For starters, Railways wants to set up across all stations in the country. These dispensing machines would be installed inside the ladies toilet. The national daily also reported that there is a proposal to include former hospital staff from the Army for the purpose. 

This subject came up for discussion during a recent meeting between Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi. For setting up the stores, the railway ministry has offered space at the stations to the Department of Pharmaceuticals in the Chemical and Fertilizers Ministry. The medicines sold will be available at affordable prices to the masses through special stores named Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Kendras. 

Around 20,000 porters working at the railway stations, along with their families, will also be provided subsidised healthcare. 

First Published: Fri, February 16 2018. 14:02 IST