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Updated: June 24, 2011 00:24 IST

Make healthcare legal entitlement: Binayak

Special Correspondent
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Human rights activist Binayak Sen, member of the Planning Commission's Steering Committee on Health. Photo: V.V. Krishnan
The Hindu Human rights activist Binayak Sen, member of the Planning Commission's Steering Committee on Health. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Says National Health Act must be enacted for effective implementation of schemes

Human rights activist Binayak Sen on Wednesday called for making healthcare a legal entitlement for all.

Speaking at the first meeting of the Steering Committee on Health, constituted by the Planning Commission to advise it on the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012-2017), Dr. Sen said the proposed National Health Act must be enacted to ensure healthcare for all as in the absence of such legislation effective implementation of schemes was not possible.

The proposed Act would guarantee the right to comprehensive, quality healthcare at public expense in health institutions to all people.

Appreciating the recommendations of the high-level expert group on universal health coverage, Dr. Sen described it as “appropriate and something that recounted the aspirations of the people.” He, however, felt that nutrition needed to be given more focus and a separate working group on nutrition must be set up.

Dr. Sen, who was included in the steering committee, within weeks of being granted bail by the Supreme Court on charges of sedition, also advocated universal public distribution system and increased allocation for each family. Financial devolution for States was equally important, he said.

Dr. Sen will provide his input on the health of tribal children, based on his experience of having worked as a paediatrician in Chhattisgarh's tribal belt. He represents the Bilaspur-based healthcare organisation Jan Swasthya Sahyog. The 40-member committee on health is chaired by Syeda Hameed.

The high-level expert group on universal health coverage was set up by the Planning Commission last year to develop a blueprint and investment plan for meeting the human resource requirements to achieve ‘health for all' by 2020. Dr. Srinath Reddy, who chairs the group, also made a presentation on the preliminary report of the group which would be incorporated in the steering committee final report and eventually incorporated in the 12th Plan document. The final recommendations of the expert group will be presented by the end of next month and the steering committee will meet one more time in September for finalising its report.

The meeting gave a general reflection of the goals, which could not be achieved in the 11th Plan, and asked for suggestions for better implementation. Presentations were made by the Planning Commission Adviser on Health, Union Secretary Health and Family Welfare, Secretary Department of Health Research and Director General of National AIDS Control Organisation.

Need for more paramedics

Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty of Narayana Hrudayalaya said there was a need for having more paramedical staff and health workers and lesser sophisticated hospitals which could be done by strengthening district hospitals. He also suggested setting up more medical colleges.

On the issue of creating a separate cadre of healthcare workers for rural areas, the Indian Medical Association continued to oppose the proposal even though the members said the degree could be renamed as Bachelor of Primary Health Practice which would be employed at primary healthcare centres in both rural and urban areas.

The steering committee will deliberate upon the given recommendations on an adverse sex ratio and child sex ratio, maternal health and nutrition, child health and nutrition, elderly persons, population stabilisation, occupational diseases, conflict and related diseases including mental health.

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Thats going to be a justice to an extend to the people of India. Govt. should take care to come up with more required number of Nursing schools, dental and medical colleges in Govt.sector as compared to private which is taking upper hand nowadays. At least for making good healthcare providers the race of privatization should be stopped. Govt. colleges are indeed much better as in this field more of the practical work is related when you are into work after education. This is going to produce better healthcare providers as most of the people prefer going to Govt. Colleges for treatment as far as low to middle class population is concerned.

from:  Dr.Parvinder Pal Kaur
Posted on: Jun 29, 2011 at 21:02 IST

I think it would be right move to press for heathcare entitlement for all after National Food Security Bill is once through. It's right time to move in this direction and open the debate. Binayak is right in his vision to ensure the heathy security for all.

from:  Santosh Kumar
Posted on: Jun 25, 2011 at 12:39 IST

I am not surprised to see glowing affirmations and happiness at entitlements. Nobody denies free stuff. Healthcare of all - sure, jobs for all - sure. Who exactly pays for all this ? The politicians? the millions and millions of govt employees who don't pay income tax? The 70% of Indians who pay no tax? The burden is borne by the 30% ordinary Indians who work hard for their salary and pay income tax. Are these people eligible for any entitlements? I would guess no based on their income. What right does Sen or any other person have to decide how much entitlements they are entitled to? Do Sen or others like him pay income tax? Where do they think the money for these entitlements comes from?
While it is easy to take money from others, a sane and fair way is to make people earn their entitlement. Nobody is entitled to a free lunch especially when that lunch is taken away from a taxpayer's plate.

from:  Hemant
Posted on: Jun 24, 2011 at 21:37 IST

I completely endorse the view that healthcare is a right that needs to be guaranteed just like education. A simple start would be to ensure that people have health insurance policies and also to encourage oommunity health services.

from:  luhar sen
Posted on: Jun 24, 2011 at 10:59 IST

It is comforting to read that at last the views of people like Binayak Sen are now listened by a considerable section of the people of India, In this connection we remember Marjorie Sykes a Gandhian and Quaker who was at Friends Rural Center at Hoshangabad M.P.. Sen tells that he was highly motivated by Marjorie Sykes to serve the poor. Many personal friends of Marjorie Sykes wrote to those in power to confer some national award to Marjorie. Now Sen brought back memories of the service rendered by Marjorie Sykes.

from:  George Abraham
Posted on: Jun 24, 2011 at 08:48 IST

Its the first time that such an attempt is on made on a scale big enough for any news agency to cover it. Dr Sen needs a solid backing to get 'Health for all' by 2020. In a country like ours.. where most news today is either about corruption or bollywood this may take a while.But I am glad that somewhere someone has thought about it and is working hard towards this aim.I am studying Masters in Public Health in US and can't wait to get back to India and join this bandwagon.

from:  C Jain
Posted on: Jun 23, 2011 at 18:42 IST

Dr. Binayak Sen's suggestion to the Govt. of India to 'make healthcare legal entitlement' (The Hindu, June 23, 2011) is welcome and should be accepted. At the same time there are other sides for it. It is unfortunate that it took more than 60 years for our govt. to listen to such a proposal. The existing healthcare arrangements for the VIPs is nothing short of a shame on our democracy. There are many examples and exceptions. It should be clearly admitted that Sen's demand is based on the simple fact that healthcare of citizens forms one of the core issues of human life. On this count, the government should treat drinking water, food, shelter, education and old-age care also as core issues along with healthcare. It must not wait for so many Committees to be formed and reports made. Government should without further delay list out the core issues of human life and accept their responsibility. That only is democratic.

from:  P.R.V.Raja
Posted on: Jun 23, 2011 at 18:07 IST

Making health care legal is OK as long as EVERYBODY receiving it pays for it.Young or old.I also recommend all Indians serve in Armed Forces. After all they expect government to provide protection and government is from people. Very simple,give more and get more.

from:  Alka
Posted on: Jun 23, 2011 at 17:40 IST

Ever since India gained independence,this is first time when the need for a national health care for all is talked about. This is the most urgent need for India.Specially women who are pregnant today and 50 % among them are anemic and children stillbirth is highest In the world in India, they cannot afford to wait even a day.Mr Julio Frank,Dean Havard says "Though India has made a rapid progress as far as economic growth is concerned, it is still one of the few countries which have the highest maternal and infant mortality rates".Under the free market economy doctors and hospitals have become the machinery for inevitable quest for money and the noble medical profession as a 'Sewa' or service to the sick and suffering is not found in India.Estimated Rs 1,74,418 crore is given to corporate as free duty on imported supplies on a fictious claim of 30% beds for the poor.This has not happened.This amount would have saved anemic pregnant women and ameliorated some stillbirth.

from:  A N Malviya
Posted on: Jun 23, 2011 at 16:09 IST

Fancy politicians, film actors are more popular because always they are in limelight. Still our society does not fully admire people like Sen because of their simplicity and no fanfare. One way or another they get bit of recognition eventually benefiting the nation but always too late...

from:  Abdul Matheen L R
Posted on: Jun 23, 2011 at 15:03 IST

As long as the present situation on corruption is not put right; this will create another way to line the pockets of officials! Nothing reaches the end user.

from:  Mohinder Singh Mullea
Posted on: Jun 23, 2011 at 13:59 IST
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