Chief Minister of West Bengal Mamata Banerjee announced on Tuesday that 35 fair price medicine stores will be set up in the city and district hospitals run by the state government where medicines will be available at a discount of 60 to 70 per cent on MRP.
Six state hospitals are running these day and night stores at present, including the one at SSKM hospital which was flagged off by the chief minister on Tuesday. In an interesting move, Banerjee asked owners of private medicine stores, who carried through a huge agitation on Monday against the opening of fair price stores, to participate in the bidding process for the fair price shops. ‘There is a tendering process and you are free to take part in it if you agree to sell medicines for the needy public at a discounted price. But don’t tell me you will close down your shops and agitate against fair price shops. Don’t play with fire,’ she warned.
But how is it feasible to sell medicines at such a cheap rate? ‘The MNC companies always have a steep price for medicines compared to Indian companies. The quality is the same but the MRP is a lot less for the same composition of medicine. Also pharma companies supply the stores at a discounted price and this discout will be passed on to the people by the fair price store operators,’ said Dr Debakripa Banerjee of Belle Vue Clinic.
Talking about important moves made by her government in the health sector, Banerjee said 5000 doctors and nurses were recruited to ensure better healthcare services in the state. Three new medical colleges had been set up as well as the number of medical seats increased under the TMC’s regime. ‘Once you become doctors, please be prepared to serve a year in rural Bengal. The state government will definitely try to incentivise your effort,’ she exhorted the gathering. She had a word of praise for eminent doctors of the city who were participating in free medical camps in the rural sector already.
‘We are also giving free cancer treatment to patients in North Bengal. The free medical camps conducted by our city doctors are really helping the poor in the districts,’ she said.