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Free medicine supply: 2011
The Hindu, October 3, 2011
Rajasthan launches free medicine scheme
An ambitious scheme for distribution of free medicines at all government hospitals and health care institutions started amid reports of insufficient supply of drugs at several places and shortage of doctors, para-medical staff and pharmacists mainly at the primary health centres in villages. Long queues of patients were witnessed at the special counters opened for them.
The scheme, involves the supply of medicines free of cost to everyone visiting the out-patient department (OPD) of government hospitals across the State. It has been widely acclaimed as a “bold and courageous” step set to benefit lakhs of poor and destitute people.
Public health activists in the State, welcoming the launch of the scheme, have laid emphasis on taking action on major health issues to make the programme a success. They have in particular sought enactment of a free medicine law and a complete ban on private practice by the Government doctors.
The Jan Swasthya Abhiyan suggested at a State-level consultation of public health experts, civil society groups, academicians and human rights activists here over the weekend that a free medicine law be brought into force to ensure that each and everyone could avail of free medicines from public health care centres “as a matter of right”.
Such legislation would ensure that free medicines are available to people as and when required and in case it does not happen and if there are any cases of denial, legal action can be undertaken. “This would not only strengthen the free medicine provision, but also establish greater faith of people in the Government health service [delivery] system,” said Jan Swasthya Abhiyan convenor Narendra Gupta. Activists said whatever good is done by the free medicine scheme would be nullified unless the private practice by the Government doctors is regulated.
“Private practice encourages unethical conduct by health service providers and promotes irrational prescription practices leading to out-of-pocket expenditure [on treatment],” said Samagra Seva Sangh president Sawai Singh.
The Abhiyan also demanded that the user fee charged from patients at the government health facilities be abolished, while pointing out that it often prevents many poor people from accessing health care services or forces them to delay their treatment.
Abhiyan's joint convenor Amit Sengupta laid emphasis on the community's role in ensuring success of the scheme. The discussion on the quality of health care services concluded that there was an urgent need to evolve a system of citizen-based monitoring of these services throughout the State. The participants also expressed concern over the fact that hunger and malnutrition situation in the State was “fast worsening”.
A memorandum addressed to the Chief Minister raised the demands for statutory right to medicines, ban on doctors' private practice and discontinuation of user fee charged at the government hospitals.
Others who addressed the consultation included Kavita Srivastava of People's Union for Civil Liberties, Prem Ranjan of Action Aid, Nisha Siddhu of National Federation of Indian Women, Rajiv Nagpal of Plan India, Hitesh Gupta of Vatsalya and Nirmal Gurbani of the Indian Institute of Health Management Research.
Religion of patients to be declared=
2019/ At SMS Medical College, Jaipur and attached hospitals
Patients registering for treatment at Jaipur’s SMS Medical College and all hospitals attached to it are required to disclose their religion under a new system that the authorities say is meant to help create a database of population-specific diseases.
“The information gleaned from registration records will help us research diseases that are mostly prevalent among the beef-eating population. Conversely, there are diseases more common among the vegetarian population,” hospital superintendent D S Meena said. He failed to explain how religion could be used as a reli-able indicator of eating habits.
Sudhir Bhandari, the principal of SMS Medical College, said the decision was “just protocol”. “It is like asking the gender of the patient,” he added.
The order issued by Bhandari, a copy of which TOI has acquired, states, “Complete details of patients coming to the hospitals are not registered... SMS hospital has started the process of filling a pre-OPD form in which patients have to fill in all details.”
SMS Hospital, named after Maharaja Sawai Man Singh of Jaipur, has already introduced registration forms with “religion” included in the personal particulars section. Other government healthcare institutions, including JK Lon Hospital and the Institute of Respiratory Diseases, are in the process of switching to the new system, officials said.
The other details being asked for include address, contact number, Aadhaar and/or Bhamashah card number. The Bhamashah Yojana is a scheme in Rajasthan to transfer financial and non-financial benefits of government schemes directly to women.
Healthcare activists have demanded that religion be left out of the registration forms. “ This is an attempt to drag religion into healthcare. The government should delete the column for religion in the form,” said Brij Mohan Sharma, a healthcare crusader.