The government will add around 4,000 more Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras in the next five years.
Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers D V Sadananda Gowda has said that with a vision to provide quality medicines at affordable rates for the common men especially the poor, the government has set a target to increase the number of Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Kendras (PMBJK) to 10,500 by the end of March 2025.
At present, there are 6,606 PMBJK outlets, which sell subsidised generic medicines across the country. The proposed new PMBJK outlets will cover all the 736 districts in the country, making affordable medicines accessible to everyone.
"This will ensure easy reach of affordable medicine to the public in every nook and corner of the country," the statement added as reported by Hindustan Times.
For the expansion of the plan in the entire country, the government is utilising effective information technology (IT)-enabled logistics and supply chain management for ensuring real-time distribution of medicines at all the outlets in a bid to avoid scarcity of stocks. As active cases are increasing across various states, access to medicines has become difficult in many places.
During the first phase of lockdown, a crisis occurred as lockdown restrictions were enforced in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.
Further, the ministry said that between March and June, PMBJK had faced many challenges regarding the shortage of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and other raw materials of pharmaceuticals. There was a disturbance in the supply of medicines to the centres from central and regional warehouses due to non-availability of vehicles for transportation, etc.
At present, PMBJK stocks are stored in four warehouses that are located in Gurugram, Chennai, Bengaluru and Guwahati. Plans for opening two more warehouses in western and central India is already in place. The government is also considering the appointment of distributors in states and union territories (UTs) in a bid to strengthen the supply chain system.
The scheme has been approved with a budget of Rs 490 crore between 2020-21 and 2024- 25. With this scheme, the prices of quality medicines have come down. The main objective behind this scheme is to ensure the availability of medicines within the reach of a large section of the population, especially the poor.