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Free tests, medicines for rural people

Calcutta, Jan. 4: State-run hospitals and health centres will provide “essential medicines and available diagnostic services” free of cost to people from rural areas, Mamata Banerjee wrote in a Facebook post today.

B.R. Satpathy, the director of health services, said primary-level healthcare facilities — primary and block primary health centres and rural hospitals — would provide free “essential medicines” and diagnostic services to all outdoor and indoor patients.

“In secondary facilities, that is district hospitals, and tertiary centres — medical colleges — medicines and essential diagnostic facilities will be available free in the outpatient departments. In the wards, the facilities will be free for patients in free beds,” Satpathy added.

Mamata dubbed the move a “landmark decision”.

In her Facebook post, the chief minister wrote that Bankura Medical College and Hospital, Malda Medical College and Hospital, and North Bengal Medical College and Hospital would “soon be upgraded at an estimated cost of Rs 450 crore”.

She said facilities such as trauma care and “specialised services in areas like oncology, nephrology, endocrinology, paediatric surgery and more” would be provided at the three facilities.

The state government has started building super-speciality hospitals, one of the promises Trinamul had made in its manifesto for the 2011 Assembly elections.

Mamata has also launched fair-price medicine shops at state-run hospitals in Calcutta and the districts.