A civil society initiative to question the efficacy of our public healthcare system

The rise of the state-of-the-art private hospitals in India is a reflection of the country’s poor public healthcare system. Because good Government hospitals and dispensaries are few and far between, more and more people are forced to spend a lot of money in private healthcare system.

In such a reality, here is an interesting civil society initiative to generate mass public consultations through media to gather views and opinions of a cross-section of people on what they think about our public healthcare system and what needs to be done to better it. Called Taking the Pulse of India, the initiative, launched this past Tuesday in New Delhi, is mooted by World Care Council along with Public Health Foundation of India and India Business Alliance with The Hindu as its media partner.

Says Celine D’Costa Menezes from World Care Council India, “Soon we will have full page questionnaires in The Hindu and other newspapers too that readers can fill in and return. It will ensure participation of a wide range of people in the initiative.” Suffering from HIV-AIDS for the last 14 years and also from TB, Menezes, an AIDS activist, says she has suffered the pitfalls of public healthcare system herself. Procuring even basic medicines like Becoluses from a Government hospital is an uphill task. “But then I thought not just HIV-AIDs patients but everyone is entitled to a good public healthcare system. Everyone needs to know their rights and responsibilities.”

Among other objectives, the motto behind the campaign is to investigate key health issues affecting a large number of people and raise awareness about them in a mass audience, to consult a large number of people on their views and methodically document these inputs, to stimulate a national dialogue on the issues and raise them up the political agenda and to raise awareness of the rights and responsibilities approach to health, the mutually beneficial basis for a partnership between health providers and consumers.

“Anyone can participate, we will try to develop an accessible mechanism so that every Indian, including NRIs, can input and participate in the drafting of the final report,” says Case Gordon from World Care Council. Any NGO, enterprise or individual can lend support to the initiative by sending an e-mail to voices@worldcarecouncil.org.

By October 10, 2010, exactly 13 months later, the partners will come out with a citizens’ charter for health.