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Rajasthan first state to pass “Right to Health Bill” : Doctors protest continues, demand withdrawal

Jaipur : Rajasthan became the first state in India to pass in assembly the Right to Health Bill which gave every resident of the state right to avail health. The Bill was passed despite protests by the opposition BJP which wanted to bring in certain changes to the provisions as well as protest by doctorswho have been demanding withdrawal of the legislation.

According to the Bill, free healthcare services, including consultation, drugs, diagnostics, emergency transport, procedure and emergency care, will be provided at all public health institutions and select private facilities subject to conditions specified in the rules, which will be formulated now. Further the bill provides every resident will have the right to emergency treatment and care “without prepayment” at any public health institution, health care establishment and designated health care centers. The government will reimburse the health care provider if the patient does not pay the charges after emergency care, stabilisation and referral.

A patient, during emergency treatment such as accidents, emergencies due to snake or animal bite and any other, as decided by the State Health Authority, will be treated without prepayment by public health institutions, health care establishments and designated health care centers qualified to provide such care or treatment accordantly to their level of health care.

The bill also directs all healthcare professionals not to delay treatment of the patient on the ground that the case is medico-legal in nature. No public or private hospital can delay treatment merely on the grounds of receiving police clearance and should start the treatment as soon as the patient reaches the healthcare facility.

According to the government, the Bill intends “to provide protection and fulfilment of rights and equity in health and well-being under Article 47 (Duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health) of Constitution of India and to secure the Right to Health as per the expanded definition of Article 21 (Protection of life and personal liberty)”.

Why are doctors protesting?

Members of the Private Hospitals and Nursing Home Society and the United Private Clinics and Hospitals of Rajasthan stopped services on Saturday night after responding to a call for a strike by the Sanyukt Sangharsh Samiti, news agency PTI reported.

“The protesting doctors said the proposed bill would gradually eliminate private hospitals, take away from doctors the right to earn livelihood and deprive the public from round-the-clock medical and health facility,” as per Dr. Kewal Krishan Dang of a private hospital, quoted by PTI.

Dr. Vijay Kapoor, secretary of the Private Hospitals and Nursing Home Society, stated that “This is an indefinite statewide ‘bandh’ and it will continue until the government withdraws the bill.”

The closure of private facilities led to a 40 per cent rise in the patient load in the government-run MBS Hospital in Kota as around 300 private hospitals, clinics and nursing homes in Kota remained shut for outdoor patients, emergency services, and fresh admissions.

Highlights of the Bill