If the Narendra Modi government has its way, India is all set to see a perceptible change in primary health facilities across the country. According to Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan, the health ministry aims to provide 50 essential generic medicines from “birth to death” to all Indian citizens.

“Fifty basic essential drugs address 75% of the healthcare needs of the majority, and we plan to make these available free to everyone, from birth to death,” HT quoted the minister as saying.

The ministry plans to roll out the programme in phases, starting with select hospitals across India.

“A standard list of medicines will ensure that for the same amount of money, 35% more medicines of superior quality can be procured to meet the healthcare needs of the majority,” said Dr Vardhan.

“The programme will focus on efficient procurement, quality control and rational use – 50% medicines are wasted or overused, leading to complications and drug- resistance,” the minister added.

“Providing free medicines coupled with their rational prescription and use will lower cost to patients tremendously,” added Ranjit Roy Chaudhury, national professor of pharmacology and chair of the committee for preparing the city’s essential medicines list.