New Delhi, Feb 29: The government will set up 3,000 new generic medicine stores across the country to tackle the shortage of drugs in rural areas, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Monday.
"For the better availability of generic medicines in the country, especially in the rural areas, the government has decided to open 3,000 new generic medicines stores," said Jaitley while presenting the budget for 2016-17 in the Lok Sabha.
The medicine centres will be opened under the Prime Minister's Jan Aushadhi Yojana.
Stating that the serious illness of family member(s) causes severe stress on the financial condition of poor and economically weak families, Jaitley said: "Government will launch a new health protection scheme which will provide health cover up to rupees one lakh per family."
"For senior citizens of the age 60 years and above belonging to this category, an additional top-up package up to Rs.30,000 will be provided," said Jaitley.
He also announced the launch of the National Dialysis Services Programme, under which funds will be made available through Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode under the National Health Mission, to provide dialysis services in all district hospitals.
To reduce the cost, the finance minister proposed to exempt certain parts of dialysis equipment from basic customs duty and excise.
About 2.2 lakh new patients of End Stage Renal Disease get added in India every year, resulting in additional demand for 3.4 crore dialysis sessions. With approximately 4,950 dialysis centres in India, largely in the private sector and concentrated in the major towns, the demand is only half met.
"Every dialysis session costs about Rs.2,000 - an annual expenditure of more than Rs.3 lakh. Besides, most families have to undertake frequent trips, often over long distances, to access dialysis services, incurring heavy travel costs and loss of wages," said Jaitley.