India weighs providing free drugs at state-run hospitals

From the New York Times:

In what would be a landmark increase in the Indian government’s spending on public health, New Delhi is completing a proposal to provide hundreds of essential drugs free to patients in government-run hospitals and clinics at a cost of nearly $5 billion over five years, officials said Thursday.

The proposal, which could receive government approval next month, would try to fill a gaping hole in the provision of health care at state-owned hospitals, many of which require patients to buy their own drugs, including substances as basic as intravenous fluids. Specialists say it could also be the first step toward a more comprehensive universal health care system in India, which, with 1.2 billion people, is the world’s most populous country after China.

Drugs account for more than 70 percent of out-of-pocket medical costs for Indians. Government hospitals and clinics provide free or low-cost care, but most of them struggle to keep up with demand, and the quality of care can be poor.

Read the complete article here.

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