Keeping in mind the drubbing in recent assembly polls and this year’s general elections, the Congress-NCP dispensation in Maharashtra has decided to roll out three major health schemes. The initiatives include free distribution of medicines to patients in government hospitals, easy accessibility of blood and blood components and setting up of a network of 937 ambulances for emergency services.
Health department officials said a ‘blood on call’ scheme will be launched on January 7, while the other two programmes will be operationalised by January end.
The blood-on-call initiative will enable patients to get the vital fluid through a dedicated three-digit helpline. This ‘Jeevan Amrut’ scheme will see blood and blood components being transported on motorcycles to registered hospitals and nursing homes. The state had undertaken pilot projects in this regard at Satara and Sindhudurg and now plans to extend it across the state.
“The ambulance project was long pending. It should have been implemented long back.
Many lives would have been saved,” said Shetty. The minister added that it would facilitate on-the-spot treatment to trauma patients till they reached hospitals.
The Rs1,061-crore scheme will see 937 ambulances equipped with medical personnel out on the road. These vehicles will carry women in labour to hospitals for deliveries and, if necessary, the trained staff will also facilitate deliveries on an emergency basis.
Committees will be set up under district collectors to decide locations where ambulances will be deployed, said sources.
Senior health department officials said the Rs325-crore free medicine scheme will see patients being provided 429 medicines free of cost in state-run establishments. While primary health centres, which form the basic healthcare unit, will get around 40 medicines, the sub-centres and hospitals will stock nearly 275 and 375 types of drugs respectively.
The super speciality hospitals will stock medicines under the scheme, which is similar to the programme implemented by the erstwhile Ashok Gehlot-led government in Rajasthan.
However, Shiv Sena MLC Dr Deepak Sawant alleged that the health department was not implementing these schemes in a practical manner. He claimed that the blood-on-call programme could face problems regarding maintaining a cold chain apart from storage and quality issues.
Sawant also charged that there were flaws in the ambulance and free medicine schemes.