Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 13:
The launch of the ‘Niramaya’ scheme by the Odisha government has put a question mark over the future of ‘Jan Aushadhi’ centres across the state.
With the state government offering over 500 medicines absolutely free under the ‘Niramaya’ scheme, many apprehend that the ‘Jan Aushadhi’ scheme, launched with the aim to provide cost-effective generic medicines to the people, would have no takers.
The ‘Jan Aushadhi’ programme was launched by the state government in association with Red Cross in 2010. While there are 22 outlets across the state, the state capital has two stores—Capital Hospital and Red Cross premises– catering to the needs of the people.
The government has introduced the Niramaya scheme in three medical colleges and hospitals, all 30 district headquarters hospitals, besides Capital Hospital and Rourkela Government Hospital, in the first phase. Subsequently, such centres would be opened in community health centres (CHCs) and primary health centres (PHCs) across the state.
The ‘Jan Aushadhi’ centres were often in the news for wrong reasons, a recurring theme being doctors prescribing medicines other than those available in these outlets. After persistent complaints, doctors were asked to prescribe generic medicines to the patients, and not the branded ones.
Another frequent complaint about the way the Jan Ausadhi outlets are being run is non-availability of stocks.
After the launch of the ‘Niramaya’ scheme, the government is planning to open five more centres in the Capital Hospital here which already has a ‘Jan Aushadhi’ centre in its premises.
The ‘Jan Aushadhi’ centres offer 70 varieties of medicines as compared to 157 ranges of drugs available in ‘Niramaya’ centres. The government has promised that the number of medicines available at Niramaya centres would soon increase 570.
As the drugs available with ‘Jan Aushadhi’ centres can be procured free of cost from ‘Niramaya’ stores, it is obvious that the people would opt for the latter.
The ‘Niramaya’ scheme hasn’t yet been rolled out to all the districts now. In view of this, no significant impact on ‘Jan Aushadhi’ has been noticed. Once it is fully operational, the ‘Jan Aushadhi’ centres will have no option but to shut down, a staff of the ‘Jan Aushadhi’ centre said.
“There has been no such instruction on ‘Jan Aushadhi’ centres from the government till now. There are plans to include 200 medicines to the list of medicines now on offer. The sale of the medicines at our centres has not been affected,” Honorary Secretary, Indian Red Cross Society, Odisha State Branch, Dr Chakradhar Panda said.