Odisha launched a free medicines scheme named ‘Niramaya’ in the year 2015 assuring free essential medicines to all seeking treatment from public health facilities. A special purpose institution named Odisha Medical Services Corporation has been constituted for procurement and distribution of medicines to public health facilities of the state. The state has provisioned to provide 570 essential and life saving medicines free under the scheme. Being in its nascent stage, the scheme has encountered various challenges and one of the major ones being non-cooperation by the doctors of prescribing medicines by their generic names and follow rational prescription practices. A significant number of doctors of public health system have an unsubstantiated belief that medicines procured for free dispensation are of inferior quality and with doubtful efficacy. Reasons for these beliefs are many as they are overwhelmingly under the influence of the sales representatives of pharmaceutical companies who regularly visit them to provide inducements for prescribing medicines of their companies and convince them by showing results of shoddy research.
It was with this in mind that the Department of Health and Family Welfare (DoHFW), Govt. of Odisha invited Prayas to organize workshops for the doctors serving in government health facilities of Odisha on rational prescription practices and free medicines scheme. The specific objectives of the workshops were :
The two-days long workshops thus organised in two consecutive batches on 22-23 and 24-25 May 2018 in Bhubaneshwar jointly by Prayas, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of Odisha and Odisha State Medical Services Corporation Ltd. (OSMCL) had about 65 participants, mostly health specialists from various fields practicing in medical college hospitals and those serving as Chief District Medical Officers, as well as officials from OSMCL. The sessions were facilitated by a pool of experts including Mr. S. Srinivasan from LOCOST, Dr. Mira Shiva from All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), Dr. S.P.Kalantri from Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS), Wardha, Dr. Samit Sharma (IAS), former Managing Director, Rajasthan Medical Services Corporation (RMSC) and Mission Director, NHM, Govt. of Rajasthan (through Skype), Dr. Narendra Gupta and Ms. Chhaya Pachauli from Prayas. Dr. Pramod Kumar Meherda (IAS), Commissioner cum Secretary (H&FW), Govt. of Odisha and Ms. Archana Patnaik (IAS), Managing Director, OSMCL also facilitated discussions and mentored the participants. The workshop used interactive presentations, exhaustive floor discussions, case analysis and group works as methods of interaction.