Janaushadhi Kendras rendered essential services amid the COVID-19 pandemic, maintained regular operations and made medicines available to people, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday and highlighted that sale at these stores increased during the nationwide lockdown.
Vardhan's comments came on a day Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated the 7,500th Janaushadhi Kendra, which provides quality generic medicines at an affordable price, at the NEIGRIHMS in Shillong.The health minister stated that on March 7, 2019, Prime Minister Modi had declared that henceforth March 7 every year would be celebrated as Janaushadhi Diwas for promoting and increasing the outreach of generic medicines, the health ministry said in a statement.
Vardhan, after inaugurating a Janaushadhi Centre at the Deep Market here on the occasion, informed that today is the culmination of the 'Janaushadhi Week', which started on March 1, it said, adding that during the week medical camps were organised, sanitary napkins were distributed and awareness rallies were held.
The ministry said that the theme of this year's Janaushadhi Diwas was 'Seva bhi- Rozgar Bhi' to highlight employment to pharmacists along with assured access to quality medicines for all sections of society.
Giving details about the Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana's (PMBJP) journey so far, Vardhan said, ''In the first six years of the scheme, i.e., from 2008 till 2014, only 86 stores were opened.''
''In the next six years (up to 2020) the number of outlets has grown to 7,300. Every district of the country has been covered. Today, on March 7, 2021, we have started the 7500th Kendra. We are committed to increasing the number of stores to 10,000 by 2024,'' he was quoted as saying in the statement.
Vardhan also highlighted and appreciated the role of the generic medicine stores during the COVID-19 pandemic. ''In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, PMBJP kendras have rendered essential services to the nation. All the kendras maintained their operations regularly and made medicines available to citizens. The sale of medicines in the stores increased during the nationwide lockdown,'' he said.
On the impact of Janaushadhi centres on people and their role as a source of income for many, the health minister said that approximately ''one to 1.25 crore people are taking medicines from Janaushadhi Kendra's every month."
''The popularity of the kendras can be judged from the fact that people refer to these kendras as 'Pradhan Mantri Ji Ki Dukan', 'Medicine etc. Besides providing quality, affordable generic medicines, the scheme has proved as a good source of employment to the educated unemployed youth of the country," he said.
''More than 15,000 persons are directly employed at various levels in PMBJPKs, with logistics partners like distributors, and quality testing labs. It is also praiseworthy to note that more than 1,000 kendras are run by women entrepreneurs/pharmacists," Vardhan said.
Reiterating the government's commitment towards strengthening the PMBJPK during this year, the Union minister said two initiatives have been taken in the new year. First is the introduction of the New Incentive Plan to make the scheme more attractive. Under this plan, the incentive provided to Kendra owners has been enhanced from the existing Rs 2.50 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, maximum at Rs 15,000 per month, the statement said.
Further, the one-time incentive of Rs 2 lakh for computer and furniture has been approved for stores opened by women, SC and ST and any entrepreneur in aspirational districts or North-Eastern states.
The second initiative taken is the inclusion of 75 AYUSH medicines in the product basket of the PMBJP to expand the utility of Kendras, the statement stated.