• Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

EXTENDED DAY PRESCRIPTION REFILLS FOR CHRONIC DISEASES LIKE HYPERTENSION ADDRESS INDIA’S HEALTH EQUITY GAP

Guwahati, December 1: 500 million Indians rely on public health system for their primary care and access to medicines. Despite various steps taken to strengthen the primary health care system, the most vulnerable particularly those with chronic health conditions have found it challenging to get a continuous supply of essential medicines. Taking time off from work every week to travel to the nearest primary health centre for a refill of their medication has been a huge barrier for patients to remain treatment compliant.

Known for its beleaguered last mile, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, showed tremendous foresight when COVID struck last year by recommending a seemingly minor health system reform that could potentially save millions of those who are already suffering from chronic conditions like cardio vascular disease, diabetes or cancer. A guidance note from the MoHFW to all states issued on April 14th, 2020 advised that “all known diagnosed patients of hypertension, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and mental health to receive regular supply of medicines for up to 3 months through ASHAs or health sub-centres on prescription.”

The guidance for extended days prescription, issued just when India was entering a hard lockdown nationwide, could be a game changer for the fledgling public sector health system, pointed out noted cardiologist from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Jodhpur Dr Surender Deora, Associate Professor, Department of Cardiology. “The only efficacious measure to keep BP under control is with commonly available and affordable medication as recommended under national guidelines. Medicine availability at the last mile at Health and Wellness Centers (HWCs) for the most vulnerable section of the society such as daily wage labourers has always been the Achilles heel of government health care.

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