Right to Health and Expanded Policies Essential for a Life of Dignity

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Paromita Das 

GG News Bureau

New Delhi, 15th May. The national plundering of public health services by private hospitals has drawn criticism from the Supreme Court on two occasions this year. The court went so far as to say during the PIL hearing last month that if the federal and state governments are unable to uniformly establish the treatment prices in private hospitals, the court will fix the rates for CGHS, or central employees nationwide or will provide directives for execution. Regrettably, each year 6.3 crore individuals in the nation become impoverished as a result of costly medical care; nonetheless, this problem is not being addressed in any of the country’s general elections. The main talking points in this Lok Sabha election have been issues like reservation, amending the Constitution to appease religious groups, and caste censuses. In contrast, it was important for both political parties and the opposition to address voters’ concerns about public health in order to address public policy. There are frequent election debates on the right to health and the effectiveness of governments in democracies like America, England, and France, but this is not the case in our nation. Since neither party is interested in pursuing electoral politics on matters of education, health, jobs, or other basic concerns, we are unable to place responsibility on any one party in this situation.

There was hope that the government would address this crucial issue as a policy during the coronavirus outbreak because of the way the nation’s private hospitals displayed organized theft to the public. However, the most recent ruling by the Supreme Court makes it abundantly evident that the government has no control over private hospitals in the nation. Since health is a matter of state, this directly relates to the state governments. Only 15 states have put the Clinical Establishment Act’s regulations governing private hospitals into effect since it was passed 15 years ago. As a result, private hospitals have turned into havens for the average man to plunder, from the nation’s capital of Delhi to areas like NCR, Haryana, and UP.

Even though Bharat is known as the global center for pharmaceuticals, its citizens still rely heavily on pricey medications sold under the brand name “branded.” The pharmaceutical industry alone is worth Rs 2 lakh crore in India, thus a whole ecosystem is at play here. Big businesses employ a lot of doctors who work to develop a climate for branded medications for various illnesses under the guise of research. This means that the dream of having access to inexpensive medications through Jan Aushadhi Kendras is not being realized, despite the efforts of the Modi administration. The main cause of this is that only 20% of allopathic doctors in the nation who are registered work for the government; in other words, the government has no direct authority over 80% of the medical workforce. It goes without saying that without doctors, inexpensive medications cannot be introduced. However, in only the previous two years, the cost of about 800 branded medications has climbed by 15%. This increase has been authorized by the Central Government’s Drug Price Control Authority.

According to a recent Corporate India survey, the country’s health-related inflation rate has risen by 14% during the previous five years, particularly following Corona. The inflation rate has doubled as a result of this rise. When compared to other countries, 63% of Bharatiya spend more on medical care relative to their income. Thus, citizens receive their medical care independently of the government. The unique aspect of this is that 72% of the money spent goes toward supplies and medications. At this point, Bharat leads the globe in the production of pharmaceuticals. Upon closer inspection, it appears that governments have yet to acknowledge the right to health as a fundamental human right.

In Parliament, the administration admitted that, in India, the annual government expenditure on an individual is only eighteen hundred rupees, whereas that of a single Member of Parliament is fifty one thousand rupees.

According to the National Health Accounts report, a total of Rs 5.96 lakh crore was spent on public health last year; the Central and State governments combined only contributed Rs 2.42 crore of this total; the rest amount was paid for out of pocket by the nation’s residents. Naturally, the Modi administration has given health insurance coverage of Rs 5 lakh to about 11 crore households and 50 crore individuals by launching a fantastic initiative like Ayushman Bharat; nevertheless, the facts indicate that only 4 crore 30 lakh people are directly benefiting via it, despite spending Rs 50409 crore been counted as one of the recipients.

It is noteworthy that the southern states account for the largest percentage of states in Bharat whose public health services are already superior to those in other regions. It is evident that a great deal of work has to be done in the nation’s health insurance system. Even now, just 15% of private sector employers offer insurance to their staff, meaning that 71% of workers must pay for their medical care out of cash. According to the NITI Aayog estimate, there will be 52.2 crore working people in 2023 and 56.9 crore in 2030. Concurrently, health insurance companies’ premiums are also steadily rising. It is 25% higher than it was before Corona. Health insurance providers assert that as treatment costs rise, so do insurance claims. Therefore, those who are not insured by Ayushman or CGHS are finding it unaffordable due to growing rates.

The Economic Survey of 2023 reports that although insurance coverage has improved from 2.7% to 4%, health insurance penetration in Bharat is still relatively low when compared to other nations. Bharat has the second-lowest insurance coverage rate in the world.

One significant feature of private insurance businesses is that roughly 70% of claim cases are either turned down by the company or, following a dispute, end up with different consumer commissioners. But in the event of a disagreement, the majority of insurance holders seek legal counsel. Let’s hold off. Under such circumstances, a national health insurance program or guarantee is required, which lowers out-of-pocket costs and guarantees that everyone has access to inclusive health care.

The current state of affairs is as follows. The Economic Survey of 2022 states that a patient admitted to a government hospital with a fever alone must pay Rs 2,845, but at a private hospital, this cost rises to Rs 15,513. This makes it simple to estimate the cost of treating different ailments. Everyone is aware that, despite the fact that 80 crore people live in poverty in our nation, only 2% of GDP is spent on health care. Approximately 45% of the impoverished could live better if this expenditure was raised to 4%. Government health spending still largely goes on infrastructure, furnishings, and other unproductive things. While the Modi government has attempted to increase the number of medical schools by more than tripling in the last 10 years, the District One Medical College initiative is expanding health facilities in rural areas; nonetheless, the key question is if these When they graduate from college, will doctors be prepared to work in public health who, as a result of inadequate government policy, now favor private hospitals.

A survey found that, compared to previous years, an average of fifteen new private hospitals are opening in the districts where new medical institutions have been established. Government hospitals are obviously still not trusted hubs for the general public’s needs. It seems sensible to wonder how the average citizen of the nation will be able to exercise their right to health in such a circumstance. This is not brought up during the general elections.

 

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