Government • 03 April, 2019

List of free medicines will expand after introducing compulsory social health insurance — Yelzhan Birtanov

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At a press conference following the meeting of the Government, Minister of Healthcare Yelzhan Birtanov spoke about the measures planned to improve the efficiency of drug provision for the population, reports the press service of PM.

According to the minister, Kazakhstan is gradually abandoning the practice of issuing free medicines in private pharmacies. Until 2017, the involvement of private pharmacies for the distribution of free medicines in Kazakhstan was approved by regulatory legal acts.

The Government is a draft Resolution, which concerns the rules for the redemption of medicines. One of the norms of this Decree provides for a full transfer of the issuance of free medicines only in public clinics. This initiative of the Ministry of Healthcare is aimed at eliminating the 25% mark-up, which was previously established by private pharmacies.

If last year only eight regions were transferred, then today, according to the Ministry of Healthcare, there are only a couple of regions that still distribute free medicines through private pharmacies.

“Starting next year, we will completely stop distributing free drugs through private pharmacies. It is very convenient: the patient goes to an outpatient clinic, receives a prescription for medicine there and takes it there,” said Birtanov.

Today, about 500 different types of drugs for 50 diseases are procured from the republican budget.

The minister also noted that there is no shortage of preferential drugs in Kazakhstan.

“In 2018, the regions received a request for the purchase of medicines for 180 billion tenge. We loaded all the lists into the information system and, in late 2018 we began to issue medicines. By the end of the year, 90 billion tenge was spent. The remaining requests for more than 80 billion tenge were found to be unfounded. At the beginning of the year we had stocks for medicines for 15 billion tenge,” said Birtanov.

Monthly volume of allocated free drugs in the country is 8 billion tenge. For the three months of this year, only 2 billion tenge was spent. The reason is that most of the preferential medicines were issued at the end of 2018.

The minister appealed to the population with a request to report on the facts of the absence of free medicines.

“If you don’t have enough free medicines, you should contact the local representative offices of the Pharmacy Committee of the Ministry of Healthcare, or via our social networks — facebook, instagram — to inform us. We will check,” the minister said.

In the future, the Ministry of Healthcare plans to increase the volume of free medicines.

“We have already approved special plans. With the introduction of social health insurance, it will be possible to expand the list of free medicines,” Birtanov noted.

In addition, today the Ministry of Healthcare is actively discussing a set of measures aimed at promoting citizens' responsibility for their health.

“The current situation with the level of citizens' health shows that, unfortunately, citizens are not careful enough about their health, more expecting the participation of medical workers. Therefore, first of all, incentives are aimed at prevention, vaccination. We first decided to propose a set of measures that concerns the health of mothers and children,” the minister explained. In particular, these are incentives for timely registration, etc.

Yelzhan Birtanov called on Kazakhstanis to take an active part in the discussion of the new bill.

“This is a proposal that requires a lot of public comment. In June, we must submit the draft code to the Parliament. Therefore, now public discussion is underway aimed at limiting risk factors, etc. Therefore, I urge you to actively discuss, expert opinions are important. For many positions, taking into account the opinions of experts, we have already changed our proposals,” he said.

The minister also stressed that they are doing a lot to reduce the incidence of diseases such as meningitis and measles. Taking into account last year's experience, when shortcomings in the work of medical organizations were identified, training events were held in almost all medical institutions. All administrative measures were taken, organizational weaknesses were taken into account. A great work is being carried out by the Committee for the Protection of Public Health to explain prevention and vaccination among the population.

“We made a decision to expand vaccination for measles. In addition to vaccinating children twice — at 1 year and at 6 years old, we moved the terms by 9 months. Since children are born from unvaccinated mothers without immunity, and to reduce the risk, we started to get vaccinated a little earlier. And also started vaccinating young mothers. We determined the required number of 2.5 people; we purchased additional vaccines,” the minister informed.

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