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Health Ministry to fast track free drug programme

Under the programme, 348 drugs under the National List of Essential Medicines are to be provided free from 1.6 lakh sub-centres

Sushmi Dey  |  New Delhi 

Harsh Vardhan
Harsh Vardhan

In an attempt to fast track implementation of free generic drug distribution programme, health minister Harsh Vardhan has called for streamlining of logistics including procurement and distribution systems.

The health ministry, in consultation with state governments, will now work out all logistical details with respect to procurement and distribution of free generic medicines in all government run health institutions across the country.

Vardhan has also decided to call a meeting of state health ministers under the framework of the Central Council of Health (CCH) in the near future.

The decision was taken during a health ministry meeting, headed by Vardhan on Thursday, to review the implementation status of the National Health Mission (NHM). The NHM's two sub-mission -- the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) -will be used as vehicles for implementation of the free generic drug distribution programme.

The free drug distribution programme was cleared by the Cabinet in May last year. However, the execution of the programme has been limited to a few hospitals as the infrastructure for procurement and distribution was not put in place.

The Planning Commission had estimated that the free generic drug programme would cost Rs 28,560 crore during the 12th plan period (2012-2017) and had made its first financial allocation during 2012-13. While the Centre would bear 75% of the cost, the states are supposed to contribute 25%. Under the programme, 348 drugs under the National List of Essential Medicines are to be provided free from 1.6 lakh sub-centres, 23,000 primary health centres, 5,000 community health centres and 640 district hospitals by the end of the programme.

Vardhan said standard treatment protocols would be developed in consultation with experts and coded to ensure that unnecessary and irrational administration of drugs is avoided.

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First Published: Fri, May 30 2014. 18:46 IST