IMA opposes government’s move to allow nurses, Anganwadi workers to supply drugs

Soon, community health officers, nurses, ASHA, anganwadi workers can supply drugs. The union health ministry has issued a notification on Wednesday, November 6, seeking suggestions and objections from stakeholders

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The stakeholders will have to submit their reply within 45 days to the health ministry

The notification issued by government states:

‘Drugs supplied by (i) Health Functionaries including Community Health Officers, Nurses, Auxiliary Nurse Midwives and Lady Health Visitors attached to Primary Health Centres/ Sub-Centres/ Health & Wellness Centres in rural and urban areas, (ii) Community Health Volunteers such as Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) under the National Health Mission, and (iii) Anganwadi Workers.’

The notification could prove to be the stand-off between doctors and the government.

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As the Indian Medical Association (IMA) in the past had opposed community health providers clause under the National Medical Commission Bill.

While speaking to My Medical Mantra, Dr Prakash Marathe, former president, Indian Medical Association, Pune, stated, “The government is considering giving healthcare workers, nurses, Anganwadi sevikas and ASHA workers the right to supply drugs. The Indian Medical Association opposes this move which is being proposed by the government.”

On the other hand, pharmacists are also not happy with the inclusion of nurses and Anganwadi workers in the new draft.

Kailash Tandel, President, and Maharashtra Registered Pharmacist Association said, “The new draft suggests, nurses, ASHA and, Anganwadi workers can now supply drugs. But, this is absolutely wrong on part of the government. There are thousands of pharmacists in India who don’t have a job. ASHA and Anganwadi workers are not qualified enough like pharmacists to supply drugs. How can the government take a decision like this? We will oppose this decision.”

In Maharashtra, around 60 thousand ASHA and over 1 lakh Anganwadi workers are providing healthcare services in rural as well as urban areas. While association working for ASHA workers have welcomed the move. Anganwadi workers association has opposed the centre’s proposal.

M T Patil, President, ASHA workers association while speaking to My Medical Mantra said, “This will definitely help as ASHA workers to provide better healthcare services in rural areas. There will be a mini-clinic where ASHA workers can supply medicines. This will benefit rural people a lot.”

While Rajesh Singh, Secretary, Maharashtra State Anganwadi Workers Sangh, said, “Anganwadi workers don’t have knowledge about medicines. If something goes wrong who will be held responsible? Before implementing this, the government must impart training to them.”