Monday, December 24, 2018

Health care as provided by the Constitution

The Constitution of India is the supreme law, which governs the country and aims to secure social, economic and political justice for all citizens of the country. It does so through a framework of political principles, procedures, and practices and by defining rights, powers and duties of the government.

One of the most important fundamental rights is health, a basic need for all.

Although, right to health is not included as a fundamental right in the Constitution, it provides for health under various articles.

Article 14 “Equality before law” states: “The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India Prohibition of discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.”

Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.

Perhaps the most important is Article 21, which provides for protection of life and personal liberty and states “No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”

Article 41 imposes a duty upon the state to provide public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement within the limits of its economic capacity and development…

Article 47 makes it the primary duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.

Article 39 it states that “the state should ensure that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused” (e) and that “children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment” (f).

If a person needs an urgent operation or a life-saving medicine, but has no money to pay for it; he/she or a member of the family may be tempted to sell their kidney to obtain money. This promotes illegal organ trade. Article 39 of the Constitution protects from exploitation in such situations.

The government has the power to bring such procedures or drugs under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 similar to what it has done for essential drugs. This way the govt. can cap the treatment costs including hospitalization costs.

Twenty percent (or any other number) of beds in all hospitals can be reserved for people under Ayushman Bharat, which provides for secondary and tertiary care for more than 10 crore families by providing health insurance coverage up to 5 lakh rupees per family per year.

This will ensure that all NLEM drugs and even those not included in the essential list and facilities will now be available to those who earlier did not have enough money or could not find enough money for treatment.

Accessible and affordable treatment means timely treatment, improved patient outcomes, better quality of life and more patient satisfaction.

Dr KK Aggarwal
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania   (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India
Immediate Past National President IMA

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