LokSabha 2019: Jan Arogya Abhiyan releases People’s Health Manifesto-2019

ST CORRESPONDENT
Friday, 12 April 2019

However, the government has made little progress in that direction, while it has weakened public systems and encouraged privatisation in all areas, including that of healthcare.

PUNE: The members of Jan Arogya Abhiyan released their People’s Health Manifesto-2019. Members of Abhiyan said that health assurance to all was one of the campaign pledges which helped BJP in winning the elections five years ago. 

However, the government has made little progress in that direction, while it has weakened public systems and encouraged privatisation in all areas, including that of healthcare. The Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY announced in the 2018 Budget has been criticised for its inefficient use of government funds and flawed design, which will allow private insurance companies and hospitals to make profit at public expense.

According to the manifesto, the current government does not prioritise strengthening of its own public healthcare facilities, which remain under-funded and under-staffed at every level. Instead, there is intent to purchase certain medical services from large private hospitals for making selective care available to around 40 per cent of people through the PMJAY.

In contrast to this dismal situation, public health experts have clearly demonstrated that it is possible to have a system of Universal Health Care (UHC) in India for quality, free health services to all.

Speaking about their demands, Dr Abhijeet More, a health activist and member of the Jan Arogya Abhiyan said, “Our overarching demand is to formulate a time-bound plan that will realise the goal of UHC in the next five to 10 years.”

KEY PROPOSALS
More added that the health budget should be increased and public healthcare services must be strengthened.

The Central and Maharashtra governments should make Right to Healthcare a legal entitlement. They should tackle the acute shortage of medicines in government health facilities. The government should operationalise an autonomous and empowered corporation for procurement and distribution of all medicines on the lines of Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, said More. 

“Privatisation of healthcare should end and private healthcare sector should be regulated. The Health Ministry should have a separate trust that will reimburse private hospitals for medical services purchased on standardised rates for standardised procedures. The first step would be to remove insurance companies from this equation and implement the schemes through a government established trust,” he said.

OTHER DEMANDS
Implement a people-oriented pharmaceutical policy: Replace current regulation of prices of medicines with concrete steps to control the rampant profiteering in the sale of medicines. Ban all irrational and fixed-dose drug combinations. Actively encourage the manufacture of drugs by public pharmaceutical industries.

Right to health services for people with special needs: Women of all ages and backgrounds should have easy and assured access to required healthcare. Also, mental health services should be made available free of charge and emphasis should be given to community-based public health programmes.

Make public health services people-centric: The healthcare sector must be made corruption-free and transparent. A multi-stakeholder ‘State People’s Health Council’ should be formed and health assemblies must be conducted at district and state levels every year.

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