Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav on Thursday expressed “strong opposition” to “privatisation” of the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, the country’s premier health and research institute, as recommended by the Valiathan Committee.

At a press conference here, Mr. Yadav said the Centre should reject the panel’s recommendations outright, or the JD(U) would build a consensus among the Opposition parties against the move. “If the report is not withdrawn, there will be a massive conflict (‘bhaari ladai’).”

“We strongly demand that the implementation of the recommendations of the Valiathan Committee, pushing for a revenue-generation model at the AIIMS, should be rejected outright. Any design to commercialise and corporatise the services of the institute, visited by 8,000 patients a day, must be stopped,” he said.

Decrying the move to convert the AIIMS “from a people’s institute into a body serving corporate interests,” Mr. Yadav said the Valiathan Committee recommended that members of the pharmaceutical industry and business bodies be empanelled to the Research Council and decision-making bodies in consultation with such industry organisations as the CII, FICCI and the Assocham. It tried to promote conditions that would serve corporate interests and lead to distortions in health care.

“We apprehend that in the name of promoting autonomy, the recommendations would alter the entire philosophy and character of an institution that is cherished and has proved itself to be productive and effective, both in academics and advanced health care. It will lead to healthcare becoming the preserve of only those who can afford to pay for it.”

Mr. Yadav said ‘medical tourism,’ at the cost of the healthcare of people, was touted by those who had vested interest in healthcare. “Medical tourism is a threat to our public healthcare system, as it takes away doctors and specialists from their priority work to take care of spill-over from the developed countries. Will the proposed changes in the AIIMS Act serve people better in terms of quality, medical education, research and patient care?”

Asked about the Prime Minister’s Office backing some of the recommendations, he said: “This is wrong and will be opposed.” The issue could not be discussed in the Lok Sabha , despite being scheduled, because of the ruckus created by the treasury benches for four days on the Telangana issue. “If fact, so many Bills were passed in the House without any discussion in the winter session.”

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