New government in Rajasthan is accused of trying to sabotage free drug scheme

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 15 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2729
  1. Dinsa Sachan
  1. 1New Delhi

Public health activists have claimed that the new Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Rajasthan is trying to sabotage a free drug scheme set up by the previous Indian National Congress government.

The scheme, launched in 2011 by the then chief minister, Ashok Gehlot, provided more than 600 essential drugs free at public health facilities across the state. Last year the government launched a free diagnosis scheme to supplement the drug scheme.

The World Health Organization said that around 649 million people in India did not have regular access to essential drugs. To tackle this problem, in 1995 the state of Tamil Nadu put in place a successful model of centralised drug procurement and decentralised distribution, and the newer scheme in Rajasthan uses the same method.

The BJP government came to power last December. Samit Sharma, managing director of the Rajasthan Medical Services Corporation—the agency that runs the free drug scheme—was removed from the post in January, which has fuelled suspicion among the population.

Chhaya Pachauli, an activist with …

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