An emotional message of thanks from a beneficiary of the Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana – a central government-sponsored scheme that provides generic medicines at subsidised prices – left Prime Minister Narendra Modi visibly moved during a video interaction with the progamme’s recipients this morning.
In a two-minute-long video of the moment, which was shared by news agency ANI, Deepa Shah, who suffered severe paralysis nine years ago that left her unable to speak, thanked PM Modi for a scheme that helped her access otherwise expensive medical care.
“I could not speak. I was getting treatment but the medicines were very expensive. My husband is also disabled. It was very difficult to run the house. But, since the time I started getting your government’s medicines, I am better now,” Deepa Shah told PM Modi.
— ANI (@ANI) March 7, 2020
Mrs Shah said she was now paying Rs 1,500 for medicines that had earlier cost Rs 12.000.
“Doctors had told me I would never be ok… but with your blessings, I’m ok and I can speak, and more people are helping me,” she added.
There are over 6,000 Janaushadhi centres operating across the country, Prime Minister Modi said today, explaining that over 900 types of medicines and 150 surgical items were available at reduced prices and had benefited more than 1 crore families.
“What to do to save every Indian from getting sick? Even if someone becomes ill, how can one get affordable treatment, to provide a sufficient amount of staff and doctors in hospitals, understand challenges and find its solution,” PM Modi said in his speech, as he highlighted the success of his government’s scheme.
In July last year the government told Parliament that the sale of generic drugs had resulted in benefits worth Rs 2,000 crore to those in need.
Medicines sold under this scheme are between 50 and 90 per cent cheaper than the average price of the top brands of each drug, Mansukh Mandaviya, a Minister of State, said.
The programme is touted by the government as the “biggest retail pharma chain of the world” with total sales for 2019/20 having crossed Rs 390 crore.
Meanwhile, in his speech, the Prime Minister also appealed to people to remain calm and not believe in rumours as governments at the centre and states combat the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
At least 31 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, after it surfaced in China’s Wuhan district in December last year. No deaths have been reported as yet, although over 3,000 have been killed worldwide; a majority of these were in China.
PM Modi urged people to maintain personal hygiene and urged all to greet each other with a “namaste” (a traditional form of greeting) and avoid handshakes, something Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyuhu suggested his country should follow.