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Two years after inauguration, 1,100 rural pharmacy outlets in Punjab gathering dust

The outlets were built at a cost of ₹2 lakh each and are now being used as kitchen and store rooms.

punjab Updated: Sep 27, 2018 09:25 IST
Mohit Khanna
Mohit Khanna
Hindustan Times, Ludhiana
A government pharmacy outlet in Ludhiana.(Gurpreet Singh/HT)

Since April 2016, patients in rural Punjab have been deprived of free medicines at all 1,186 pharmacy outlets in the state’s dispensaries with the government failing to operationalise the facility. The outlets, built at a cost of ₹2 lakh each, have been gathering dust or are being used as kitchens or store rooms. Across the state, the government had spent ₹23.6 crore on building these outlets.

Jot Ram, president, Rural Health Pharmacist Union of Punjab, said, “The government had proposed to provide generic medicines at these outlets. Separate staff was also to be hired to operate these pharmacies. However, the project did not kick off. No medicine was supplied and no staff was hired.”

He added, “It was also proposed that these outlets would be equipped with computers to keep a record of medicines. The are 102 such pharmacy outlets in Ludhiana district and all are non-functional since the beginning.”

Poor buying medicine outside

The non-functioning of these pharmacies that are under the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC), has the rural populace disillusioned and fuming. Santokh Singh, 64, a resident of Khwajke village, 30km from Ludhiana, told HT, “Like ration, each month we have to spend between ₹200 and ₹500 on medicines. When the pharmacy was being built in the village, we were told that free medicines will be provided to the villagers. However, this has remained an unmet promise and the pharmacy is now serving as a kitchen for the dispensary.”

State health minister Brahm Mohindra did not respond to queries. PHSC managing director Amit Kumar said, “We will hire staff to make the majority of the pharmacies operational. The present status of these pharmacies will also be reviewed.”

First Published: Sep 26, 2018 21:54 IST