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Kerala Aims to Bring Patients Back Into Govt Care, Recommits Giving Free Medicines For Non-communicable Diseases

In a bid to bring more patients back to government hospitals, Kerala government has recommitted itself to distribute free medicines for non-communicable diseases, diabetes and hypertension, state health secretary Rajeev Sadanandan told News18 on Friday.

Aradhna Wal | News18.com

Updated:March 3, 2017, 11:32 PM IST
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Kerala Aims to Bring Patients Back Into Govt Care, Recommits Giving Free Medicines For Non-communicable Diseases
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Thiruvananthapuram: In an attempt to bring patients back into government hospitals, the Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala government has recommitted itself to distribute free medicines for non-communicable diseases, diabetes and hypertension, state health secretary Rajeev Sadanandan told News18 on Friday.

"We were already providing free medicines for non-communicable diseases in primary health care," said Sadanandan, "We're making the system more watertight now."

This, the state aims to do through revamping and strengthening its primary health care facilities, as announced in the state budget on March 3.

On March 3, during the presentation of the budget, the state government made it clear that it wants to revamp and strengthen its primary health care facilities.

The state budget focusses on the Aardram Mission that will give "shape to a public health movement cantered at several Primary Health Centres (PHCs)." The "major thrust" of this mission, launched in February this year, said Sadanandan, is to convert 170 PHCs to Family Health Centres, in a pilot phase. For this, 510 additional doctors and nurses -- one doctor and two nurses per centre -- will be hired by the state. "Thus a primary health level, based on defensive method to control infectious diseases and lifestyle diseases, will be created to provide free treatment to lifestyle diseases" announced in the budget. The free medicines are required for the pharmacological management of these diseases.

India has repeatedly been called the diabetes capital of the world, and the coastal state has been witnessing rise in price of diabetes medicines over the past few years. It has doubled the incidence rate in the rest of the country. Reportedly, 22 percent of its population over 25 years of age has been diagnosed with the disease.

Sadanandan pointed out that only 34 percent of people in Kerala accessed care in government facilities while the rest still went to private hospitals or clinics. The reason for this, he said, according to the National Family Health Service, was that people often found government hospitals to be crowded and lacking speciality services. Hence, to bring a majority of people back to government health care the mission will provide specialty services in sub-district or taluka hospitals, and super speciality services, such as cardiology, neurology and nephrology, in district hospitals. For this, an amount of Rs 2,000 crore has been sanctioned for District Taluk and General Hospitals.

Additionally, an intensive programme will be implemented for eradicating leprosy and elephantiasis, and Rs 1 crore has been earmarked for helping the ailing elephantiasis patients. The government has targeted eliminating these diseases by 2020.

The budget, for the first time ever, announced a large subsidy for immunosuppressant drugs needed by organ transplant patients. This, Sadanandan pointed out, was the new and innovative provision in the budget. Generally expensive, these drugs will be provided at 10 percent discount on marked prices and Kerala State Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Limited will manufacture them. The state has also earmarked Rs 10 crore to fund purchase of additional machinery as working capital.

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| Edited by: Bijaya Das
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