The UT health department is set to launch free diagnostic facility for city residents at least five dispensaries and hospitals.
“The file has been approved by the UT administrator and we will hold a meeting with the health secretary to decide the launching date. It will be done shortly,” said Dr Rakesh Kashyap, director health services, Chandigarh.
To begin with, the facility will be provided at those dispensaries and hospitals, which are equipped with machinery and have adequate manpower. For instance, Government Multi-speciality Hospital (GMSH), Sector 16, civil hospitals in Sectors 22, Sector 45, Manimajra and Sarangpur are the ones where the facility will be provided.
First, the facility was to be started at seven dispensaries, but the department decided also to start it at hospitals which already have the machinery. Under free diagnostics, basic tests like stool, urine, blood and others will be done free of cost. Expensive tests like X-ray, MRI shall not be included in the list.
“For starting diagnostic facilities at other seven-eight dispensaries, tenders have been floated to buy equipment. Once procured, the facility will be extended to more dispensaries,” said the director.
Over Rs 1 crore will be funded by the National Health Mission for the project.
Free drug initiative
The UT government’s “free-drug initiative” wherein the authorities are promising to provide 48 drugs free of cost seems to be an old wine in a new bottle.
“The health department is already providing free drugs in its hospitals and dispensaries. Under free drugs initiative, same drugs (at least 48) will be provided but the source of funding will change,” said an official from UT Health department.
“Earlier, the health department used to get funds from the Union health ministry but now the budget allocation for drugs purchase will be done via National Health Mission,” he said.
He said that Rs 2.5 crore has been approved by the National Health Mission for the procurement of drugs.
“We will get additional funds of nearly Rs 4 crore from the National health Mission for free drug initiative and free diagnostic facilities. Hence, the UT health department can utilize the budget released by the health ministry for providing other facilities,” he said.
He said funding by NHM will also ensure better availability of drugs throughout the year.
The official said the department will buy sufficient drugs in advance and check their consumption so that people do not hoard drugs.
Currently, drugs are supplied to pharmacies, but they usually remain out of stock during the last weeks of the months. As a result, poor people end up spending money from their own pocket.