While the Government is actively promoting ‘Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana’ wherein over ten crore households are provided healthcare facilities in private hospitals, not much is being done to protect patients from violation of their rights when they access such care, various health and patients’ groups under the platform of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) have alleged here.
In this direction, the JSA members sought immediate adoption of the Patient’s Rights Charter prepared by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to protect the rights of the health care users, and warned if it is not done, they will press for making it an electoral issue in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.
Four months on and the Union Health Ministry is still in the process of finalising the Charter draft that enumerates the rights of patients as well as protection and redressal mechanisms in cases of violations by doctors and hospitals to be made enforceable through existing regulatory frameworks across the country.
Under the banner of the JSA, a national platform working on health and healthcare services across the country, health activists and patients’ groups said that the adoption of the charter is urgent to ensure that the many violations of patients’ rights are immediately addressed to stop loss of health and even lives.
“If the charter is not adopted before the Lok Sabha elections, then a large-scale campaign will be taken up by JSA to demand this as an electoral issue,” they said in a statement here.
Earlier, they held a national level consultation here, where members deliberated on patients’ experiences and violations faced by them especially in private hospitals, and the pressing need to adopt the Charter of Patients’ Rights by the Ministry. The consultation was organised by SATHI, Pune and Sama Resource Group for Women and Health on behalf of the JSA, with participation from several patients’ rights groups and health activists from across India including states of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi, as per the statement.
Prepared by the NHRC, the Ministry in August last year announced its plans to implement it, placing it in the public domain for inviting comments up to September 30, 2018.
Deepa of SAMA (Delhi) spoke about the travails of survivors who while accessing hospitals for treatment experience discrimination, judgemental attitudes, and did not receive any documents that may aid them in seeking justice. Similarly, Sunita Singh from Sahayog and Healthwatch Forum, Uttar Pradesh spoke of the Clinical Establishment Act, which has been adopted by the State but there is a complete absence of implementation.
Abhay Shukla (JSA Maharashtra) stressed on incorporating provisions for patient protection into CE Act, which, he said, will provide the necessary legislative and regulatory mechanism for ensuring patients’ rights.
The activists hope that the Patients’ Rights Charter will act as reference framework for the Union Government and State Governments to give complete protection to patients, while they set up operational mechanisms to make these rights functional and enforceable by law. This is especially important and an urgent need at the present juncture, because India lacks effective regulation of the private medical sector.