Indians to Get Free Medicines, Better Health Services
* Text Courtesy IANS
*Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
(IANS) The government proposes to give away free medicines through government hospitals and health centres and also plans to expand health services to small cities and towns.
This was announced here by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his address to the nation on Independence Day.
The prime minister said the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) was launched in 2005 so that health services could be extended to every village.
After its success, "we now want to expand the scope of health services in our towns also", he said in his address from the Red Fort.
"The National Rural Health Mission will be converted into a National Health Mission which would cover all villages and towns in the country.
"We are also formulating a scheme for distribution of free medicines through government hospitals and health centres," he said.
NRHM, which is the flagship programme of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, was launched with the aim to provide better health services to people living in remote areas in India.
"Today this mission is being implemented with the help of 10 lakh health personnel, including 8.5 lak Asha workers," the prime minister said. ASHA or Accredited Social Health Activists are local women trained to act as health educators and promoters in their communities.
The prime minister also said that no new case of polio had been reported in the country in the last one and a half years.
"India does not figure in the list of countries affected by this disease," he said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) took India, which in 2009 had more polio cases than any other nation in the world, off its polio endemic list early this year after not a single case of the crippling disease was reported for over a year.
India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan are the four countries where polio is still endemic.
He also described malnutrition among children as a "big challenge".
"We have taken steps in many dimensions to deal with this problem," he added.