Rapidly expanding internet and mobile networks in India offer companies and governments an opportunity to connect low-income and remote parts of India with e-services. The Gujarat Government is setting up tele-counselling services through a private-public partnership. In addition, the government plans to establish non-branded generic pharmacies at district hospitals to provide patients with more affordable medicine. The pharmacies will be run by NGOs and the counselling services will be provided by qualified and trained medical and para-medical personnel.

Vishal Dutta

AHMEDABAD: Gujarat government will set up medical helpline to provide tele-counselling. The helpline will keep the service open for 24 hours and can be accessed by dialling 104. This is the first time any state would provide phone advisory on health issues to the citizens. It will also set up ‘non-branded generic stores’ at district hospitals to provide affordable medicine.

In 2007, Gujarat government was the second state in the country after Andhra Pradesh to introduce 108 Emergency Ambulance services. The service was started with Hyderabad-based Emergency Management and Research Institute (EMRI) that was later taken over by GVK Group.

The 104 tele-counseling and non-branded generic stores services too would be operated on Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. The government has undertaken a tendering process and would invite interested companies. The ‘non-branded generic stores’ would be operated through Non Governmental Organisation (NGOs) again through a tender process.

Minister of health and family welfare Jayanarayan Vyas said the services would start in three months.

“The corporates are ready to cater to the middle and upper middle as well as the rich class. But a huge demand for affordable healthcare is left unaddressed.” he said adding that here were a PPP model can be worked out to provided medicine at a affordable rate to the bottom of the pyramid in our social and economical set up.

The ‘non-branded generic drug stores’ would initially start at district hospitals and gradually extend to government hospitals in the state. The 104 medical counseling services over the phone would be provided 24 X 7 by qualified and trained medical and para-medical staff. They will be also equipped with providing the address of the nearest doctors or hospital to the public.