IMA to engage with political leaders to put forth doctors’ demands for coming elections

Demands include strict steps to protect medical staff while on duty, reduce GST burden on healthcare products and insurance

Updated - March 31, 2024 02:16 pm IST

Published - March 29, 2024 06:45 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) will engage with political leaders to put across its communities’ demands for the upcoming election, with the doctors demanding that the Centre help them maintain the “purity of modern medicine, bring in strict measures to protect medical staff while on duty, reduce GST burden on healthcare products and insurance, and exempt small and medium hospitals up to 50 beds and clinics from the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010.’’

The IMA has released its charter of demands and has asked local branches to engage with political leaders to “educate them about the needs of the community,’’ said its national president R.V. Asokan.

Dr. Asokan said it was vital that political leaders coming to power be made aware of the issues and expectations of the community.

The association has demanded that the attempts to integrate various systems of medicine be stopped in the best interests of people.

It said the COVID pandemic had exposed the vulnerability of the healthcare system and had also brought to fore the paucity of professionalism in health management right from the sub-district office level.

Indian Medical Services

“As such, this mandates an acute need for change in the health administration of the country. The IMA has proposed to the government to revive the Indian Medical Services discontinued in 1948,’’ said the association, while advocating to discontinue the practice of ad hoc and contract hiring of doctors in National Health Missions and Central ministries.

Stating that India’s health system is overwhelmingly financed by out-of-pocket (OOP) expenditures incurred by households, the association noted that the funding, provided by both the Central and State governments, currently constitutes approximately one-third of all health spending, with States accounting for nearly two-thirds of total government health expenditure.

“Sustained underfunding of public sector facilities, and the rapid growth of the private sector has contributed to rising OOP costs on health care for households. Of this, a significant share, almost two-thirds of OOP expenses, are for purchasing outpatient care, especially medicines. Because households bear the burden of the high OOP health expenses in India, more than 55 million people are impoverished each year on account of expenses for ill health,’’ the association said, while seeking increased funding for the health sector and a more robust and inclusive insurance scheme.

The IMA noted that violence against doctors and hospitals is a national shame and said State legislation had been ineffective due to the absence of a Central Law. “Hospitals should be declared safe zones. Doctors and nurses deserve to be protected,’’ said the association.

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