Health is said to be one of the major priorities of the incumbent government. Though no concrete steps have been taken so far except for the distribution of health cards in some regions, it is expected that practical measures will be taken soon.

A plethora of flaws can be identified in our healthcare system. Prescriptions made by physicians are predominantly illegible and consumers have to rely on retailors, who mostly have not received any medical related education, for the right dispensation of medications. There are always high chances that prescriptions are misinterpreted which would amount to a double whammy on the patients; being stripped of their hard earned money and provided with no comfort at all. To make matters worse, the wrong medication may prove extremely dangerous.

There is no denying that conflict of interest is entrenched in this sector. Large numbers of private medical facilities are run by doctors who at the same time serve in public hospitals as government servants. Even, it has been observed that some District Health Officers (DHOs) have their own established private hospitals, and doctors and nurses serving in such facilities enjoy special perks and privileges when it comes to discharge of their duties in government institutions provided their bosses (DHOs) are satisfied with them in private capacity. To make public service efficient, those who hold authoritative posts must never be allowed to run their private healthcare centres or, otherwise, should be relieved of their jobs forthwith.

Particularly senior physicians don’t care about on time attendance, and working hours at outpatient departments have generally been reduced to two hours i.e. 10.00 to 12.00. On average, they devote only two minutes to a single patient in public hospitals according to a report by the British Medical Journal. This time can be increased to 10-15 minutes only if they fulfill their mandatory duty of six hours honestly. Some of them unabashedly use their private prescription slips in official practice so as to publicize their consultation centers. They cannot be held accountable because doctors associations are always at their disposal and can paralyze the whole health department in matter of hours.

Antibiotics are frequently prescribed without giving any careful thought, while self-medication with high dose antibiotics is also prevalent. Studies have found strong evidence that their reckless use can lead to global microbial resistance which would render all types of antibiotics worthless. We have to thus fulfill international moral obligation by regulating their usage.

Moreover, high risk medicines are sold without a valid prescription which may be used for destructive purposes. Barring over-the-counter drugs, complete ban should be imposed on sale of medications without a written order from a qualified person. It would make a big difference if practice of printed prescriptions is promoted which will make it easy for both retailors and patients to fully comprehend them. Besides, it will also put a restraint upon unscrupulous vending of alternative medications.

Pharmacies may be set up in all public hospitals which will not only help in ready and reliable supply of medicines to patients but will also generate profit. Such a step will also increase employment opportunities for pharmacists most of whom are jobless right now. In order to improve performance on health indicators their role also needs to be recognized in industries, retail pharmacies, as clinical pharmacists, and in patient care.

As a general rule, competition among manufacturers ensures availability of quality products at fairly low prices, but when it comes to pharmaceutical industries that is not the case. Instead they compete with each other in winning over doctors. In this regard a big chunk of money is spent on schmoozing doctors, arrangement of their lavish meals and foreign trips, and showering of expensive gifts on them etc. with no benefits provided to end consumers.

We can follow the example of some European countries which adopted generic drug policies due to the global economic recession of 2008 in order to control prices where some countries even made prescriptions in generics mandatory. Since generic drug companies wouldn’t squander a big portion of budget on marketing their products, it automatically results in a drop in prices. Research indicates that people who use generics show a high degree of medication compliance owing to reasonable cost than those who take branded ones. As per the figures provided by the IMS Health Institute use of generic medicines saved the US healthcare system $1.67 trillion from 2007 to 2016.

In addition to economic benefits, such a policy will pay in terms of avoiding medication errors and diminish influence of drug companies on physicians. But the government must ensure that generics have the same dosage, safety, efficacy, and stability as the branded ones. India has been cashing in on production of generic drugs which has helped in availability of cheap medicines domestically and increasing of foreign exchange reserves by their exports to, inter alia, European countries and the US. While in this regard their negotiations are in process with China. We also need to act now.