JAIPUR: As Covid cases rise again due to the Omicron variant, the government of Rajasthan has prepared a draft of the country’s first right to health law that sets out the rights of patients, their assistants and healthcare providers. health care and provides a mechanism to address stakeholder grievances. , according to senior officials in the Rajasthan government.
A senior Rajasthani government official familiar with developments said the bill would be introduced in the state assembly’s budget session, which is expected to begin in March, after securing the state cabinet approval. A final draft will be prepared for cabinet review after consultation with all stakeholders, the official cited above said.
In the 2021 budget, the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, announced that the state will guarantee the right to health for all. He had also announced a universal health care plan worth ??3,500 crore, under which every family in the state would get medical insurance benefits up to ??5 lakh.
Officials say the right to health guarantees certain rights to people in public and private health facilities.
“The government of Rajasthan is already providing facilities such as free medicines and tests, with Chiranjeevi health insurance up to ??5 lakh, etc. This law will not only guarantee effective implementation, but also the rights of patients and their carers, ”he said.
He said the bill provides for the right of the patient or his attendant to know the cost of treatment for certain diseases, the right to see another doctor and to request the patient’s discharge, if he is not satisfied. processing. The bill also requires hospitals to maintain the secrecy of a patient’s health records and to ensure informed consent when health records are shared.
“The aim is to ensure fairness and affordable health care and the treatment of patients with dignity and respect as well as transparency in the functioning of health systems,” said another senior official of the health department. .
For this, the second official said that the hospital will have to disclose to patients or their caregivers the disease, the treatment adopted and their right to seek a second opinion from other doctors.
The official said that another highlight of the proposed bill is the management of human resources in each government medical institution in urban and rural areas through the ratio of health workers to patients.
“It is generally observed that the health workforce is in excess in urban areas and insufficient in rural areas. The law will ensure that there is similarity of health personnel vis-à-vis patients and positions. For this, a transfer and secondment policy would come into force, which would ensure that health workers would have to work in rural areas, ”he said. The official added that a similar policy has been in place in Tamil Nadu since 1991 and has been successful in improving rural health care.
A third official responsible for the right to health issue said the new law will provide for the pricing of drugs and treatments even in private hospitals, where the number of patients is increasing every year. “The bill provides for setting prices or packages, whether it is for a heart or liver transplant, even in private hospitals,” he said.
The third official said the bill provides for a grievance and redress mechanism for blocks, districts and states. “The government would constitute a state health authority to address grievances and would also set standards for hospitals, including prices and basic facilities to be provided. A committee made up of elected officials, locals, health and administration will be formed at all levels to remedy grievances, whether related to behavior, infrastructure, medication, treatment or accidents, etc. . “, did he declare.
The state government will also include provisions of laws like Rajasthan Health Insurance People and Institutions Act, Rajasthan Epidemics Act etc. in RTH, the third official said.
Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said on Tuesday they were waiting for central government rules under the Clinical Facilities Act to clarify what everything can be part of the Right to Health Act. The rules will provide minimum standards for all clinics and hospitals, including private ones. “The final touches on the bill would be given once the rules had arrived. A draft is being prepared in consultation with stakeholders. “When the rules are notified, the state will initiate the right to health appropriately,” Gehlot said.
On the reasons for a law on the right to health care, Dr Narendra Gupta, responsible for Rajasthan of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), said that the need to enact a right to health care has become more urgent and more acute following the devastating Covid-19 pandemic. worldwide by infecting more than 257 million and 5.1 million deaths in a short period of time. In India alone, according to government records, around 3.5 million people have been infected and over 4.6 lakh have died.
“The possibility of a resurgence of this pandemic or of new pandemics is always there and it is high time that the right to health care law be enacted to prevent citizens from having catastrophic financial difficulties in accessing health care” , did he declare. He added that India’s healthcare spending is around 3.5% of GDP and 1.15% is public spending, which is among the lowest spending of any country in the world except of the few countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nikhil Dey, human rights activist and RTI activist, who had participated in the consultation on the bill, emphasized the implementation of the right to health. “We had suggested putting the project in the public domain. The human resources policy and the grievance mechanism are the most important aspect of the bill. Rights and law are useless if there is no redress mechanism for which there should be a liability law. Social auditing should take place at all levels, whether at CHC or PHC, ”he said.
Jaipur Private Hospital and Nursing Home Society Secretary Dr Vijay Kapoor said all government programs appear to be good because they are for the welfare of the people, but the government should also look out for the interests of people. hospitals. “Already the public’s feelings are against doctors and the medical fraternity is facing a problem. Any new policy should not affect our work. Free work should be there for health professionals, ”he said.
According to the survey of the 71st cycle of the ONSS conducted in 2017, nearly 50 million people each year slip into poverty or do not come out of it because of the payments they make for health care. A large part of this expenditure relates to drugs, medical consultations, etc. The 64th cycle of the ONSS carried out in 2004 noted that direct expenditure on health care was the second main reason for rural indebtedness and almost a quarter of patients self-heal upon falling ill due to difficulties. financial, Gupta said.
The Indian Constitution does not expressly recognize the right to health as a fundamental right under Part III of the Constitution (Fundamental Rights). However, through judicial interpretation, this has been read into the fundamental right to life and personal liberty (Article 21) and is now seen as an inseparable part of the right to life, legal experts have said. They added that the guiding principles of state policy enshrined in Chapter IV of the Constitution oblige the state to protect human health.