Free Medicine Program Press Statement by the Minister for Health and Medical Services

Free Medicine Program Press Statement by the Minister for Health and Medical Services

The Free Medicines Scheme is a landmark project of the Fiji First Government that was launched in 2015. The Program was introduced as part of Governments initiative to ensure equity in terms of accessibility and availability of key medicines in partnership with the Private Retail Pharmacy to citizens earning a gross salary of below $20,000 a year.

The implementation of the program was initiated by the Ministry of Health and Medical Services in partnership with other key stakeholders from January 1st 2015 with an initial budget of eight million dollars, with an initial list of 72 medicines on a Voluntary basis. From the possible 65 Retail Pharmacy, there were approximately 35 active retail pharmacy’s participating in 2015.

As per the announcement of the 2016 budget and the new fiscal year, the Minister for Finance had announced the continuation of the scheme with an increase in the number of items from 72 to 142 covering a wide range of medicines and four consumables products. Upon the amendment to the Pharmacy Profession Decree 2011 Act No. 28 of 2015 referred to Section 48 Clauses 1,2 and 3 as per gazette dated 23rd November, 2015 the participation to the scheme was mandatory to ensure we reach out to our people in all corners of Fiji. To date there are 65 registered retail Pharmacy in Fiji that would be participating in this scheme.

The medicines are targeted to cater for the ever growing need to treat and curb Non communicable diseases, common bacterial and viral infections, eye problems and to facilitate for pediatric care and emergency care. The availability of dressing materials, will allow for patients to do dressings at home, in particular for our diabetic patients who require regular dressing.

In conjunction with day to day services provided the Ministry of Health and Medical Services, the program will complement the pharmaceutical services. I see this scheme as an important aspect of my role as the Minister for Health and Medical Services in addressing and improving public perception of Government Pharmaceutical services. Such schemes would assure and bring back that trust, acceptability and credibility from our citizens of our health system in partnership with the Private sector.

Furthermore, please note that certain medicines will not be available in retail pharmacies, but is available in all three divisional hospitals (CWMH, Lautoka Hospital and Labasa Hospital). This is due to their specialty use and potential of any irrational use. The Ministry is also exploring of even having some carefully selected medicines to be made available at Sub-Divisional Hospitals where this is high demand. The Ministry is in continuous dialogue with the Retail Pharmacy as well as the Divisional Hospitals in ensuring that quality, safety and use issues are monitored on a regular basis.

We hope that you will make full and reasonable use of this service.

Thank You

For a copy of this press release please click here.