"As the northern Indian state of Rajasthan rolls out an ambitious universal health care plan, the discontent of the state's doctors stands in stark contrast to the joys of the 68 million people who will benefit from the scheme," Inter Press Service reports. "Just a little over a year ago, the state government began supplying free generic drugs to its massive population, effectively stripping doctors of the ability to prescribe more expensive branded medicine," IPS writes. The news service notes, "Some 350 essential generic drugs are now being distributed free of cost," and, "[a]ccording to news reports, over 200,000 people are currently taking advantage of the program."
"As a result, outpatient visits have jumped 60 percent and inpatient admissions are up 30 percent, despite the fact that public health facilities are overcrowded and understaffed, and many people have to travel long distances to reach one," the news service notes. "'(This) has broken the cozy relationship enjoyed for decades between doctors and (drug) manufacturers,' Dr. Nirmal Kumar Gurbani, adviser to the Rajasthan Medical Service Corporation (RMSC) that was constituted by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to run the scheme, said during a presentation at the Second Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Beijing last week," according to IPS. However, "[w]ith the country's public health system already under-resourced and struggling to meet the needs of 1.2 billion people, 40 percent of whom live below the poverty line, there are serious challenges to expanding the program nationwide," the news service adds (Ebrahim, 11/8).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.