Rajasthan patients not benefiting from free health care services

The “unrealistic norms” have created difficulties for many patients approaching government hospitals

July 22, 2022 05:07 am | Updated 05:07 am IST - JAIPUR

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. File.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. File. | Photo Credit: PTI

Despite the elimination of all kinds of user charges at public health facilities, the patients in Rajasthan are not getting full benefit of the Chief Minister’s free health care scheme, because of certain conditions having been imposed. The “unrealistic norms” have created difficulties for many of those approaching the government hospitals for medical treatment.

The Chief Minister’s Nishulk Nirogi Rajasthan Yojana has recently made it mandatory for the patients to show their Jan Aadhaar cards to avail of free health care. Besides, the patients from outside the State will be required to pay for the services. The new rules have been perceived as exclusionary in nature, and creating discrimination among the patients.

Over 50 civil society groups and public health experts have demanded immediate withdrawal of the norms, while affirming that the new policy disregards the “complex diversity” of the State’s population as well as the fact that a large section of population may not be eligible for Jan Aadhaar card despite being an intrinsic part of the society.

Jan Swasthya Abhiyan

The Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), which functions as the Rajasthan chapter of People’s Health Movement, stated here on Wednesday, that mandating free public health care services for only those who possessed Jan Aadhaar card overlooked the health care needs of a large population of deprived and marginalised people, residing in the State.

JSA member Chhaya Pachauli, director of voluntary group Prayas, said the migrant labourers from other States residing in Rajasthan were an important part of the State, but they may not have Jan Aadhaar card on account of not being the permanent residents. They were contributing significantly to the State and its economy, she said.

There are other sections of the population, such as the homeless, refugees and nomads, who may not have any identity card at all. “To make Jan Aadhaar card mandatory is like turning a blind eye to their health needs. It is against the principles of health equity and it also violates the right to life guaranteed by the Constitution,” a memorandum submitted to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said.

While Rajasthan aspired to become the first State in the country to legislate the Right to Health Care Act, bringing about a rule that would exclude the people amounted to contradiction in the State’s approach, said the civil society groups. “The two phenomena cannot go hand in hand,” they said.

The JSA and other experts demanded that the scope of the State government’s scheme be expanded to make public health care services free for everyone without any discriminatory norms or criteria. The mandatory requirement of any identity card in government hospitals should be abolished immediately, and clear guidelines issued to all public health institutions specifying the same, they affirmed.

The signatory organisations to the memorandum included Rajasthan Samagra Seva Sangh, Budget Analysis Rajasthan Centre, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Centre for Labour Research & Action, Indian Health Development Society, Adivasi Adhikar Manch, Society for Sustainable Development and Citizens for Social Action.

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