New Delhi: The Central Government’s ambitious scheme to provide essential drugs free of cost to the economically weaker section is likely to get delayed thanks to the lackadaisical attitude of the state governments.

According to reliable sources in Union Health Ministry, total of 11 states including Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Bihar, Jharkhand, Delhi and Punjab have not even responded to the questions asked by the Centre in this regard. They are not showing any interest in purchase, storage and distribution of drugs under the scheme.

All the states were asked to provide budget estimates on purchase of drugs under the scheme which aims to bring transparency in the entire process of purchasing, storing and distribution of drugs.

The Health Ministry has decided to provide essential drugs free of cost at all the government-run hospitals and health centers in the country. During the current fiscal year, the government has earmarked Rs 100 crore which will be increased up to Rs 20,000 crore in the next five years.

All the expenditure, from storage of drugs to their distribution using modern information techniques, will be borne by the Central Government. The Centre will also provide 75 percent of the total amount spent on the purchase of drugs. Despite all this, the states have not even prepared Essential Drug List (EDL).

According to a Health Ministry official, there is a rampant corruption in present drug purchase system, whereas the new scheme promises bringing better transparency in it. This could be one of the reasons behind the indifferences shown by the states.

Under the new scheme, it would be mandatory for the states to purchase the medicines directly from the manufacturer companies through e-marketing. They will have to opt for Technical pre-qualification followed by the process of dual-auction. A manufacturer must possess the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certificate.

Commenting on the apathetic attitude of states over the scheme, Arun Kumar Panda, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that given the hurdles in purchase of medicines, the states have been given an option under which they can buy medicines with the help of Tamil Nadu Medical Services Corporation Limited (TNMSC).

JPN/Mukesh Kejariwal

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