Saturday, March 28, 2020

Patients with chronic illness to get 3 months’ medicines from wellness centres

According to a health ministry order dated March 20, beneficiaries who suffer from ailments such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases should get their prescribed medicines for three months at a time.



CGHS provides cashless treatment to central government employees – including retired staffers – at their own centres or empanelled hospitals.
CGHS provides cashless treatment to central government employees – including retired staffers – at their own centres or empanelled hospitals.(REUTERS)




The Union government has directed wellness centres under the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) to take a set of measures, including giving medicines to beneficiaries with chronic diseases for three months at a time, to ensure the clinics are decongested as the country observes a 21-day lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak.
According to a health ministry order dated March 20, beneficiaries who suffer from ailments such as diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases should get their prescribed medicines for three months at a time. This would ensure that they don’t have to visit the centres repeatedly. Normally, medicines under CGHS are provided for one month at a time.
“Usually, we give out medicines only for a month but because of Covid-19 we are working on reducing the number of people who come to wellness centre for effective social distancing. So we are providing medicines for up to three months to patients with diabetes and hypertension,” said a staff member from a centre in south Delhi’s Lajpat Nagar.
CGHS provides cashless treatment to central government employees – including retired staffers – at their own centres or empanelled hospitals. It also reimburses claims of medical services not provided by its panel of hospitals. There are around 35 lakh beneficiaries across the country.
Beneficiaries above the age of 60 or those with low immunity, uncontrolled blood sugar levels or any such illnesses can send another individual to collect medicines on their behalf, the order states. This too will ensure that the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions -- who are particularly vulnerable to developing serious illnesses from the coronavirus infection -- don’t have to step out of their homes.
At least 873 Covid-19 cases and 19 deaths have been reported across the country as of Saturday evening, according to the Union health ministry, even as a three-week nationwide lockdown is in place till April 14 to contain spread of the highly infectious disease.
The government has also allowed people with chronic diseases to buy their medicines from local pharmacies. To do this, they will be reimbursed for the incurred expense and don’t have to provide a ‘non-availability certificate’ from their wellness centre. Reimbursements are usually given only for purchases of medicines that are not available in the wellness centres.
The guidelines state that the beneficiaries need not come to the clinics to submit their reimbursement claims as well; they can be submitted to respective ministries or departments directly.
Further, they can book consultations online to reduce the waiting period at the clinics.
Apart from making sure that people don’t throng the wellness centres, these measures would encourage people not to visit hospitals as the number of Covid-19 cases increase in the country.
“Hospitals are preparing for a surge in Covid-19 cases for which routine services are being curtailed. So, the wellness centres and dispensaries are needed to ensure people keep receiving medical consultations and medicines without going to the hospitals. Giving out medicines for longer duration is also effective in decongesting these clinics and dispensaries,” said Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine at Safdarjung hospital.
The office memorandum from the CGHS director states that leaves of the health care workers from the department – except those on medical leave -- be cancelled as there is already a staffing crunch with several medical officers helping in surveillance efforts for Covid-19.


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