Providing quality health care for all citizens is the primary responsibility of a welfare state. Emphasising this, the general body of the Tamilnadu Health Development Association through a resolution passed on Sunday demanded that the Centre initiate steps to bring in a suitable Amendment to the constitution to make health a fundamental right.

The general body of the TNHDA, a body of doctors, health workers and health activists met at Triplicane in Chennai to discuss an agenda on public health issues including water and sanitation.

The general body elected a 25-member Executive Committee with Dr. C.S. Rex Sargunam as President, Mr. V. Sampath as secretary and Mr. S. Sadanandam as treasurer. Dr. P. Chandra will continue to be the patron of the organization.

After papers were presented on health-related issues, the general body unanimously passed the resolution seeking a constitutional amendment declaring health a fundamental right.

The resolution recalled that Article 21 of the Constitution, which guarantees right to life, would remain meaningless if health is not made a fundamental right of every citizen. To lead a dignified life, good sanitation and health care are basic requirements.

In another resolution, TNHDA resolved to constitute three expert committees to undertake an in-depth study on the Tamil Nadu hospital system. The panel would take the Government General Hospital, Chennai (Twin Towers) as an illustrative case study. The committee would come up with suggestions on how the GH can deliver the best service to the public without charging fees. The report of the panel will be presented to the government, media and the public.

The TNHDA urged the Tamil Nadu government to strengthen the government hospital system using the amount it is investing in Star Health Insurance. This would streamline the health delivery system in the state on a permanent basis and give quality medical care to the population without any user charges, instead of the present measures which are temporary and palliative in nature, and which were helpful only to the private insurance companies and private hospitals.

The committee would submit a memorandum on use, misuse and rationalization of drugs to the Centre and Tamil Nadu governments, among others. It would also report to the MCI, Ministry of Health at the Centre, to give up the “ill-conceived starting of a short duration rural medical health course which is detrimental to the society.”