Right to Health – a fundamental right: Panel

The panel, which was set up by the 15th Finance Commission, submitted its report to the government recently.

Picture: Pixabay

NEW DELHI:  A high-level panel on reforms in the health sector has come up with following radical suggestions on the 75th Independence day next year :

  • Shifting healthcare from the state list to the concurrent list in the Constitution
  • Opening over 3,000-5,000 small private hospitals in the next five years
  • Declaring the Right to Health as a fundamental right .

Putting the sector in the concurrent list would squeeze state autonomy and give the Centre greater say in public healthcare across India. 

The committee recommended that the number of MBBS and PG seats in the country be made equal by 2025.

Also, training offered to teachers ought to be different as compared to that for medical service providers, it suggested.

The panel, which was set up by the 15th Finance Commission, submitted its report to the government recently.

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Members of the panel

  • Dr Randeep Guleri, Panel Head, Director, AIIMS, Delhi
  • Dr Devi Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Health, Bengaluru
  • Dr Dilip Govind Mhaisekar, Vice-Chancellor, Maharashtra University of Health Sciences
  • Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman of Medanta
  • Dr Bhabatosh Biswas of R G Kar Medical College, Kolkata
  • K Srinath Reddy, President of Public Health Foundation of India. 

“These recommendations are a result of long discussions among us and officials of Niti Aayog, the health ministry and policy experts from outside,” said a panel member.

The panel also suggested hiking allocation for healthcare to 2.5% of the GDP, adding both Central and state governments should be nudged to increase spending on the sector.

“We unanimously agreed-upon large investment in primary healthcare — almost up to two-thirds of the total budgetary allocation.”

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Health experts flag ‘conflict of interest’

States should earmark at least 2% of their health budget for health research activities, the panel said in its 120-page report.

It also recommended that in the next five years, 3,000-5,000 hospitals of 200 beds each may be created with private sector participation.

Many of the recommendations, however, evoked sharp reactions from public health experts.

“A committee comprising two members who represent corporate hospitals is sure to suggest more privatisation.

It’s clearly a matter of conflict of interest,” said public health researcher Sunil Nandraj who has been an advisor to the Union health ministry in the past.

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