The central government is working on a new welfare scheme which will give 50 essential medicines to all citizens free for the entire lifetime. Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan explained that “Fifty basic essential drugs address 75% of the healthcare needs of the majority, and we plan to make these available free to everyone, from birth to death.” Dr. Harsh Vardhan has formulated and implemented a similar project successfully in Delhi between 1993 and 98.
“Today, the out-of-pocket expenditure on health is 60% mainly because of two factors, medicines and diagnostics. Providing free medicines coupled with their rational prescription and use will lower cost to patients tremendously,” explained the chairperson on the committee that prepares the medicine list for Delhi.
“The program will focus on efficient procurement, quality control and rational use – 50% medicines are wasted or overused, leading to complications and drug- resistance. A standard list of medicines will ensure that for the same amount of money, 35% more medicines of superior quality can be procured to meet the healthcare needs of the majority,” explained minister Harsh Vardhan.
The list of medicines will include drugs for pain, infection, hypertension, diabetes, among others. The scheme will be launched in select hospitals in select cities and in phase manner will be spread across the country.