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Patients to get medicines free of cost in govt hospitals of Punjab after Jan 26

2024 1largeimg 2146892200In order to reduce people’s out-of-pocket expenditure on health, the Punjab Government is planning to ensure that a patient visiting government hospitals does not buy any medicine from the market.

According to sources, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Ajoy Sharma in “most urgent” instructions to all Civil Surgeons has asked them to provide a list of their requirements of medicines immediately, which will be sent to the competent authority. “Patients will not have to pay for a single medicine after January 26,” he said. The Principal Secretary has also told the doctors that non-compliance will invite strict action.

The Principal Secretary has told the Civil Surgeons to immediately confirm the availability of drugs and other medical consumables in their respective districts. They have been told to send the list of medicines and consumables required for a period of one month. In his instructions, the Principal Secretary has asked the Civil Surgeons to send the demand for some buffer stock which can be 5-10 per cent of the total requirement for a district.

Principal Secretary Sharma has asked all concerned heads of health facilities to keep their plan ready to transport medicines from the warehouse with in the next 24 hours. “In case these lists are not received before the deadline, the responsible SMO will be held accountable personally,” he added.

Till recently, there had been an acute shortage of medicines in the state. These medicines include paracetamol, painkillers and those needed to treat blood pressure, diabetes and acidity. The government supplies more than 300 medicines to hospitals, which are then dispensed free of cost to patients. But there were no rate contracts for over 200 medicines on the ‘Essential Drug List’, leading to unavailability of many of these in hospitals.

“Rate contract” is the first step in the process of procuring medicines. Due to poor availability of medicines, Punjab had one of the highest out-of-pocket expenditure on health in the country.

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