Supreme Court Seeks Response from Center on Petition Related to Ignoring Right to Health
Recently, the Supreme Court has sought a response from the Center on the petition to ignore the ‘right to health’.
It may be noted that some time back in a petition filed in the Supreme Court, it was said that the ‘Fundamental Right to Health’ is being ignored, because patients have been forced to choose between overly expensive private medical facilities or inadequate public health services, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The petition is seeking proper implementation of the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act- CEA, 2010 and Clinical Establishment (Central Government) Rules of 2012, and the Patients Rights Charter.
How was the “right to health” overlooked during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- The Government of India had implemented ‘regulation of standards in medical institutions’ as a goal of the national policy, but it is a matter of concern that these standards are yet to be implemented effectively across the country. If seen, it is a violation of the ‘right to a dignified life’ of a person.
- Under Articles 21, 41 and 47 of the Constitution of India and various ‘international covenants’, provision has been made to ensure the delivery of minimum health care.
- But these rights are not available to the common citizens due to inadequate public health facilities.
- The current situation is that more than 70 percent of health care is provided by the private sector and less than 30 percent of patients get their treatment in the public sector.
- There are frequent reports of private hospitals charging sky-high fees for the treatment of COVID-19.
- In such a situation, a ‘grievance redressal mechanism’ should be made available for the patients at the district, state and national level, which investigates the complaints of the patients at different levels.
- This may include denial of rights to patients by hospitals and clinics, and failure to provide the minimum medical care and facilities required under the ‘Medical Institutions Act and Rules’.
Basis of ‘Right to Health’:
- The fundamental right to life and personal liberty is guaranteed in Article 21 of the Constitution, and the ‘right to health’ is embedded in the ‘right to a dignified life’.
Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP):
- Under Articles 38, 39, 42, 43, and 47 of the Constitution, the State has been entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the effective implementation of the ‘right to health’.
- The Supreme Court has observed in the West Bengal Khet Mazdoor Samiti case (1996) that in a welfare state, the primary responsibility of the government is to secure the welfare of the people and at the same time provide adequate medical facilities to its citizens.
- India is also a signatory country to the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ (1948) of the United Nations.
- Under this declaration, all human beings have the right to a standard of living for health and well-being, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and essential social services.
Source – The Hindu