Urvashi Sarkar

NEW DELHI: A mechanism that involves the inputs of the majority of Indians on health issues and identifies new ways of invigorating the discourse on health was launched at a function here on Tuesday.

Explaining the aim behind “Taking the Pulse of India’s Health,” World Care Council (South Asia) regional coordinator Celina Menezes said: “All are consumers of public health programmes. However, there is not much choice in terms of quality of health care that people receive. Communities of people who are sick and suffering should have a say within the health set-up. Public healthcare should reflect the needs and wants of the people.”

Ms. Menezes said framing of programmes usually happens in consultation with the government or with the authorities that be. “It is important to give people a stake in the process as well,” she added.

The Hindu, World Care Council, India Business Alliance and Public Health Foundation of India are partners in the initiative which aims at mobilising people on health issues.

Questionnaire

Outlining the modus operandi of the programme, Ms. Menezes said: “The first step in the next two-three months will be the roping in of new partners and framing a questionnaire on health issues in vernacular languages across India. For this, the participation of non-government organisations, the private sector and schools will be encouraged. On December 10, which is Human Rights Day, The Hindu will publish the questionnaire as a full page. On a quarterly basis the newspaper will run a full page with information on the programme. There are plans for weekly updates, editorials on health issues, articles on health and interviews with opinion and decision makers with regard to the same.”

A factor which needed considering was the method of framing the questionnaire and disseminating it.

While Centre for Advocacy and Research executive director Akhila Sivadas said the initiative was laudable and that the modalities of the programme needed to be worked out, other speakers emphasised that no effort should be spared in implementing the initiative for developing a national consensus on health rights.

The initiative has been billed as a “13-month civil society national consultation programme.”