New Delhi: The government promised the parliament it would open 3,000 medical stores for the poor in the next eight months, but no more than a tenth of that number have opened over the last eight years, an analysis of government data reveals.
The government has set March 2017 as the deadline for the new stores. Only 321 have opened since 2008, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Pharma PSUs (public-sector units) of India, which monitors the Jan Aushadi stores, or people’s medical stores.
They started to supply generic medicines at subsidised prices to address persistent healthcare failures in the country.
Inadequate public healthcare and healthcare expenses push an additional 39 million people back into poverty in India every year, according to Lancet paper.
Generic medicines are the same as branded medicines in terms of therapeutic value, but because they are off patent, they are cheaply produced by Indian pharma companies.
According to the latest budgetary data, Rs 149 crore has been set aside for 2016-17 to set up the medical stores nationwide.
This includes Rs 45 crore for opening stores, Rs 65 crore towards working capital and Rs 20 crore for computer systems and staff training.
The government intends to give each store one-time financial assistance of Rs 2,50,000, including Rs 1,00,000 as medicines.
While the Jan Aushadi stores provide retailers with a 20 per cent profit margin, the government proposes an additional incentive of 15 per cent of monthly sales, with a ceiling of Rs 10,000 per month and up to Rs 2,50,000 for stores outside government hospitals.
More than half of India’s rural population uses private healthcare, which is four times as costly as public healthcare, and can cost the poorest 20 per cent of Indians more than 15 times their average monthly expenditure, IndiaSpend reported in July 2016.
India’s poorer states have health indicators that are worse than many nations poorer than them, and India’s healthcare spending is the lowest among BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nations, as are its health indicators.