The Chief Minister Free Medicine Scheme, the ambitious scheme launched by the previous dispensation, may have come under criticism from Vasundhara Raje on several occasions, but it has got the thumbs up from her planning department.
While Raje slammed the scheme several times during the election campaign - she went to the extent of calling medicines doled out under the initiative as ‘poison’, an evaluation study by the state’s planning department has, on the contrary, found it quite good, and only lacking in implementation.
The study, which evaluated the scheme since its inception in October 2011 for its financial and physical status, has also studied how the scheme led to an uptick in the number of patients at government hospitals. However, it points out several shortcomings in its implementation, which prevented it from achieving “expected results”.
For the purpose of evaluating the scheme, two districts with lowest number of beneficiaries - Bundi and Dungarpur - were selected, and the study was conducted at government health set-ups including district and satellite hospitals in urban areas and primary and community health centres in rural areas.
After the physical verification of infrastructure - like drug distribution centres (DDCs) and drug stores - patients were asked about quality, availability, sufficiency and regularity of drugs. A good amount of patients interviewed found drugs to be of good quality, but there were issues with supply, number of distribution centres and storage.
The study found that though the number of patients increased manifold, the health centres couldn’t take the load due to shortages: shortage of hospitals, shortage of doctors and paramedics and shortage of drugs.
Apart from this, during the assessment it was observed that there was mismanagement at the drug stores and distribution centres, including shortage of DDCs to tackle the number of patients resulting in long queue at existing DDCs, and all medicines were not available at one DDC. Besides, the process of local purchase was complicated, and there was absence of computers and internet facilities in the rural areas.