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Free medicines for all at public health facilities likely from Nov 1

New Delhi:

With the finalisation of 12th Plan outlay, Health Ministry is aiming to roll out its ambitious project for provision of free medicines to all at public health facilities across the country from November 1.

Despite a scaled-down outlay of 1.95 per cent of GDP during the 12th Plan, Health Ministry officials say none of its planned schemes will be sacrificed and it is keen to launch the free medicines project soon.

"We should be able to work out all our schemes within the budget earmarked for the 12th Plan. No scheme will be sacrificed," a top Health Ministry official told PTI.   

He said, "We are keen to launch the free medicine scheme within the next two months. The effort is to launch it from November 1 and the model of Rajasthan Medical Services Corporation and that of Tamil Nadu, which has been a pioneer in this, are being studied."

Once the scheme is launched, the government will provide free generic medicines to all patients coming to public health facilities - from primary and community health centres to district hospitals and medical colleges.   

The Health Ministry intends to earmark an amount of Rs 2,000 crore annually under the proposed National Health Mission (NHM) for supplementing the states' resources under the scheme, which will see its scaling up to Rs 6,000 crore for augmenting the supply chain management of medicines.

While the Centre will supplement the states' efforts, the Health Ministry is mandating that besides creating a list of generic medicines, states should prepare standard treatment guidelines and evolve a system of procurement.

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