Mumbai: As the two day public hearings of NHRC come to a close, the organisation has made strong comments on the regulation of the health sector in the country. This comes after the Commission did dispose off many complaints relating to the private sector owing to lack of jurisdiction.
The two day Western Region Public Hearing on Right to Health Care was organized in Mumbai on 6-7 January, 2016 by the National Human Rights Commission in collaboration with Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, a network of civil society organizations working on health issues. The States of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan were covered during this public hearing. Government Health Officials from these States as well as a large number of non-government organizations attended the Regional Hearing. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India was also represented in the Hearing.
On the opening day of the Public Hearing, out of 106 cases, the Commission took up 88 cases (Maharashtra-38, Gujarat-30 and Rajasthan -20) in three separate benches presided over by Acting Chairperson Justice Shri Cyriac Joseph and Members Justice Shri D. Murugesan and Shri S. C. Sinha and Chairperson, MSHRC Mr. Justice S.R. Bannurmath were also present during the hearing. 18 cases of Maharashtra could not be taken up because of paucity of time.
The Commission recommended compensation to the tune of Rs.4,25,000/- in five cases. These include cases of amputation of limb because of medical negligence and delay in treatment; mental agony and trauma faced by a woman and child because of wrong HIV report; taking a patient to a private hospital by ambulance doctor without consent and denial of right to health because of absence of doctor in a PHC. Show cause notices have been issued in three cases to the Govt. of Rajasthan as to why monetary relief /compensation should not be recommended to be paid to the victims /their next of kin. The Commission has also directed the State Governments to conduct detailed enquiries in a number of cases.
35 cases were disposed of in the hearing. Out of these, 23 cases were time barred/beyond jurisdiction of the Commission, in terms of the provisions of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.
During the second day, presentations were made by the non- government organizations on several systemic issues which are responsible for the violation of health rights of a large number of people in these States. These issues, inter-alia, were maternal health and problems with proper implementation of Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojana; denial of sonography services; occupational health care and need for improvement in the ESI Scheme and need to undertake proper community monitoring mechanism for addressing health rights violations.
The role of State Medical Councils in protecting and ensuring the rights of patients was also discussed so as to ensure effective grievance redressal mechanism for patients.
A large number of suggestions to improve the status of health care were received which will be examined by the Commission for formulating suitable recommendations to the concerned authorities. While dismissing many of the complaints relating to the private sector due to lack of jurisdiction, NHRC officials pointed out to step up the redressal system for patients aggrieved with the private sector. Officials also pointed out to the lack of the healthcare facilities reach in the rural areas.
NHRC may soon submit their recommendations regarding the same to the government.