The central government will streamline systems involved in the distribution of free generic drugs across India, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has said.The free drug programme's formal launch would be preceded by working out all logistical details with respect to procurement and distribution in consultation with the state governments, he said after a review meeting with health ministry officials Thursday.The meeting was called to review the implementation of the National Health Mission (NHM).The minister asked for thorough streamlining of systems in the distribution of free generic drugs to government health institutions at all levels throughout the country.Harsh Vardhan said the two sub-missions of the NHM -- the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) -- will be vehicles for implementation of the free drug programme.
"It (the programme) was formally cleared by the union cabinet May 2013. But till date its implementation has been limited to a few, big-city hospitals as the infrastructure for procurement and distribution was not put in place," a release quoted the minister as saying.Harsh Vardhan has decided to call a meeting of state health ministers under the framework of the Central Council of Health (CCH) in future. The CCH, which also includes professional experts, has not met for a number of years.In the free drug programme, the centre would bear 75 percent of the cost and the states would contribute 25 percent.Harsh Vardhan also said standard treatment protocols would be developed in consultation with experts and coded to ensure that unnecessary and irrational administration of drugs is avoided."As women are the worst victims of a dysfunctional public health system, I want their concerns to be addressed on a priority basis. The gender-blind nature of government delivery systems is proving counter-productive," he said.