Raising their voice against “commercialisation of the healthcare sector,” the Alliance of Doctors for Ethical Healthcare (ADEH) on December 26, launched an ‘Ethical Doctors’ Manifesto’ demanding a ‘universal healthcare’ system, to benefit the public at large.
Doctors from across the country, including Bihar, West Bengal, Kerala, Punjab and Delhi, came forward to raise concerns, as a “voice of dissent within the health sector.”
In the manifesto launched, the ADEH demanded the effective implementation of NITI Aayog’s proposal to cap the trade margin to 30% for all medical devices.
“Usually there is a huge difference between the factory price and the MRP. An increased cost leads to patients dropping out as it becomes difficult for them to afford. We want the factory prices to be displayed as well, so that the prices are transparent. Once the capping is done, prices will come down heavily,” said former Punjab Medical Council president G.S. Grewal.
ADEH members also raised concerns about the Ayushman Bharat programme stating that the “logic of high volume low profit” is not beneficial and that the programme should cover primary healthcare as well instead of only secondary and tertiary ones.
“Rational costs of care should be taken into account and doctors should not be businessmen but rational life saving professionals. We should move beyond the Ayushman Bharat to a universal healthcare system,” said Arun Gadre, a gynaecologist from Pune.
The ADEH also said that the National Health Protection Scheme (NHPS) and the Comprehensive Primary Health Care (CPHC) are based on “faulty foundations”.
“In the absence of a robust regulatory mechanism and mandatory standard treatment guidelines, we fear that the schemes will be misused by corporates and other big private hospitals for profiteering through indulging in procedures and surgeries,” said ADEH members.
Further, doctors demanded that the National Medical Commission (NMC) should take action against “ghost faculty” in private medical colleges.
Samiran Nundy, surgical gastroenterologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, “There should be exit exams to monitor the quality of doctors passing out from medical colleges. Over the years, a number of private medical colleges have come up which are of doubtful integrity, thereby, affecting the quality of doctors graduating. The NMC should also monitor this issue.”
“Ban the production of irrational medicines and irrational fixed dose combinations of medicines and give a directive to all pharmaceutical companies to market their medicines only under their generic names [with company’s name in bracket] and enact and implement the Appropriate Clinical Establishments Act in all States,” read the manifesto.