NEW DELHI, April 17 (Xinhua) -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Monday announced that his government would soon bring in new health rules that mandate doctors to prescribe drugs to patients soon, seen as an effort to provide affordable healthcare to all.
Addressing a gathering at the inauguration of a hospital for the poor in the western Indian state of Gujarat's Surat city, Modi slammed doctors for writing prescriptions difficult for poor people to understand, forcing them to buy medicine from private stores at high prices.
"We will bring in a legal framework by which if a doctor writes a prescription, he has to write in it that it will be enough for patients to buy generic medicine and he needs not buy any other medicine," he said.
Claiming that medicines are expensive in India, Modi said "in our country, doctors are less, hospitals are less and medicines are expensive."
"If one person falls ill in a middle-class family, then the financial health of the family gets wrecked. He cannot buy a house, cannot conduct the marriage of daughter. It is the government's responsibility that everybody should get health services at a minimal price."
The prime minister also asserted the need for preventive healthcare so that people "will not have to visit hospitals".
"Preventive healthcare is very important. My Swachhta Abhiyan (cleanliness campaign) is aimed at preventive healthcare as it has been proved that many diseases are contracted if we live in an unclean environment," he added.
India does not have a national health insurance or universal healthcare system for all its citizens, which has allowed the private sector to become the dominant healthcare provider in the country.
According to the National Family Health Survey-3, the private medical sector remains the primary source of health care for 70 percent of households in urban areas and 63 percent of households in rural areas.