One year after the free generic medicine supply scheme was launched in Rajasthan, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Tuesday said the State Government would examine the feasibility of introducing free diagnostic tests of all patients in the hospitals run by it. The proposal was under consideration following the medicine scheme’s huge success, he said.

‘Results encouraging’

Addressing a national workshop marking the free medicine scheme’s first anniversary here, Mr. Gehlot said the results in one year were “very encouraging” and the number of patients visiting the out-patient department (OPD) of government hospitals had gone up by more than 50 per cent.

Mr. Gehlot inaugurated a helpline for providing information on generic medicines as well as computerisation of 1,200 free medicine distribution centres functioning across the State. He also honoured the Collectors, Chief Medical & Health Officers, doctors and district coordinators selected for their work to ensure the scheme’s success.

The workshop was devoted to the theme, “Extensive reach of essential medicines in India”. Mr. Gehlot pointed out that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently expressed a desire to implement the free medicine scheme all over the country after the success of the Rajasthan model.

Referring to the Centrally-sponsored Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojana, the Chief Minister said 85 per cent of the deliveries in the State were being done in medical institutions.

He called upon the Medical Council of India Chairman K. K. Talwar, who was present at the workshop, to solve the problem of shortage of medical colleges and doctors in the country.

State Medical & Health Minister A. A. Khan said as many as 400 types of medicines and surgical items were being supplied under the scheme at the Government-run hospitals and health centres. About 200 more medicines would be added shortly to the scheme, he said.

Ambulance service

World Health Organisation expert consultant F. Stebler, Additional Secretary in the Union Health & Family Welfare Ministry Anuradha Gupta and Rajasthan Medical Services Corporation Managing Director Samit Sharma also addressed the workshop.

Later, Mr. Gehlot launched an ambulance service for pregnant women and newborn babies living the far-off rural areas in the State. The Janani Express Ambulance Service will provide referral transport free of cost through 400 ambulances which will ply in the difficult terrains of rural areas.