Explained: What is Rajasthan’s free medicine schemehttps://indianexpress.com/article/explained/explained-rajasthan-free-medicine-scheme-5827614/

Explained: What is Rajasthan’s free medicine scheme

Dr Manoj Thaguria said, “A lot of patients revisit the dispensaries, hence the high number of beneficiaries. Some also manage to get a second course of prescribed medicines on the same day."

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The government said that between October 2, 2011, and December 2017, the number of free medicine beneficiaries stood at 52.4 crore.

In his budget address earlier this week, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot increased the number of free medicines from 608 to 712 and free tests from 70 to 90, under the Chief Minister’s Free Medicine Scheme.

What is the Chief Minister’s Free Medicine Scheme?

In the year 2011-12, Ashok Gehlot, who was serving as the chief minister, had announced a scheme to provide commonly-used essential medicines free of cost to patients visiting government healthcare institutions. The scheme consists of two components — free medicine and free tests — and is considered one of Gehlot’s pet projects.

Since when has the scheme been in place?

To implement the scheme, Rajasthan Medical Services Corporation Limited (RMSCL) was incorporated on May 4, 2011, as a Public Limited Company, and obtained its Certificate of Commencement of Business on June 13, 2011. RMSCL was established as a centralised procurement agency for procuring generic medicines, surgical equipment, sutures and medical equipment for the department of Medical, Health and Family Welfare, Medical Education department, among others.

While the Free medicines scheme was implemented on October 2, 2011, the free test scheme was introduced on World Health Day – April 7 – in 2013. The first phase of the free test scheme was implemented in hospitals affiliated with state medical colleges, as well as district /sub-divisional and satellite hospitals.

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On Doctor’s Day – July 1 – in 2013, it was brought to the community health centres (CHCs) and on August 15, in primary health centres (PHCs) and dispensaries.

How many have benefitted from the scheme so far?

Responding to a question by MLA Shakuntala Rawat in the state Assembly early last year, the government said that between October 2, 2011, and December 2017, the number of free medicine beneficiaries stood at 52.4 crore.

Interestingly, Rajasthan’s population is estimated to be just above seven crore. Dr Manoj Thaguria, Nodal Officer for Free Medicine Scheme, said, “A lot of patients revisit the dispensaries, hence the high number of beneficiaries. Some also manage to get a second course of prescribed medicines on the same day, for example, those staying far from the hospital or the dispensary.”

Moreover, patients residing in the border districts of the adjacent states also frequently visit the state to obtain free medicines and avail free tests.

For free tests, the number of beneficiaries stood at 9.41 crore, as of December 2017.