Pointing to stark inequalities in Indian healthcare, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Friday called for an urgent need to redesign and reform the sector.

“There is a paradoxical situation in India. On one side, we have super specialty medical centres which cater to the needs of patients requiring specialised and speedy treatment and on the other hand, a very large number of our population remains deprived of basic medical facilities and healthcare,” said NHRC member P.C. Sharma.

The NHRC on Friday held a consultation meeting of health secretaries of states on illegal medical practices and healthcare facilities in tribal areas.

“Professionals and stakeholders have to minimise these poignant inequalities in healthcare and make it accessible to one and all. There is a need to promote health as a human right by launching a primary healthcare movement,” he said.

Experts at the meet opined that key aspects of the right to health are not just access to healthcare and building hospitals.

“It extends further and includes a wide range of factors like freedom from non-consensual medical treatment, safe food, safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, health related education and gender equality,” said NHRC’s acting chairperson G.P. Mathur.

The human rights body emphasised the need for preparing a national database of medical practitioners.

“Non-availability of national data of registered medical practitioners is another issue, which needs attention from the concerned authorities,” said Mathur.

Production and distribution of spurious drugs in the country was another area of concern for members participating in the meet.