To improve the healthcare system in Chittorgarh, Rajasthan, and make medicines affordable for particularly the marginalized sections of citizens, the district administration of Chittorgarh conceptualized a simple yet effective initiative in 2007 for providing low cost drugs to the people. The initiative involved:
a) Asking doctors to prescribe cost effective generic versions of medicines instead of expensive branded medicines,
b] Procuring good quality generic drugs for government cooperative stores, and
c] Spreading awareness among patients and their families toward the use of generic medicines and their potential benefits.
The result of these efforts has been the establishment of district wide low cost drugs shops (fair price shops) making medicines more affordable and accessible to people and ensuring their complete treatment. Following Chittorgarh’s example, such low cost shops have been set up in about 19 other districts of the state of Rajasthan and the rationale of this initiative has now been taken up at the State Level. Since October 2011, generic medicines are being made available free of cost to citizens at all Government hospitals in the state through the Mukhya Mantri Nishulk Dawa Yojana [Chief Minister’s Free Drug Distribution Scheme).
Under the scheme, free essential generic medicines, surgical and diagnostic equipments are provided to all patients obtaining medical treatment from government health facilities through Drug Distribution Centers (DDCs) across the state. The medicines that are not available at these DDCs are made available through the low cost shops set up as a result of the Chittorgarh initiative.
A new organization, the Rajasthan Medical Service Corporation (RMSC), has been set up as the nodal implementing agency for the scheme and for ensuring its smooth functioning. Every procedure related to the provision of medicines to Government hospitals has been streamlined including stages from procurement, quality control to distribution of medicines, complemented with a complete technology aided mechanism for ensuring monitoring of operations. A centralized system has now replaced hitherto existing decentralized processes, thereby reducing several possibilities of loopholes, delays and wastage of resources. People in Rajasthan can now access affordable medicines through a network of fair price shops and free drug distribution centers right up to the primary health centre and
sub centers. This easy accessibility and affordability is vastly saving the out of pocket expenditure of people and creating a robust system of healthcare delivery in the state.