Doctors must embrace Right to Health Bill, not protest against it

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Source: The post is based on the article “Doctors must embrace Right to Health Bill, not protest against it” published in the Indian Express on 31st March 2023.

Syllabus: GS – 2: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to health.

Relevance: About Rajasthan Right to Health Act, 2022.

News: The Rajasthan government has recently passed the Right to Health Act. This made Rajasthan the first state in India to pass the Right to Health (RTH) bill. But the doctors in the State are protesting and terming it as a ‘draconian law’.

About Rajasthan Right to Health bill

The bill allows free access to outpatient and inpatient services in all government and selected private hospitals in the state.

Must read: Human life, above all: On the Rajasthan Right to Health Act and the stance of doctors 

Why Rajasthan is the ideal state to formulate and implement the Right to Health bill?

Rajasthan is the ideal state to formulate and implement the Right to Health bill because, a) In 2022, “Healthy states, progressive India” report placed Rajasthan in 16th position among 19 big states, b) As per the National Family Health Survey -5 (2019-21), the infant mortality rate and the neonatal mortality rate in the state are 30.3 per 1,000 live births and 20.2 per 1,000 live births respectively, c) The doctor-population ratio of the state is at an astoundingly low level of five doctors per 10,000 population (in comparison, it is 21 per 10,000 population in Jammu and Kashmir).

What are the expected benefits of the Right to Health bill?

a) Rajasthan’s RTH is a legal entitlement for the patient which will prevent many doctors from extracting (not earning) money from patients, b) Rajasthan has one of the highest incidences of violence against healthcare professionals in the country. Violence against healthcare professionals is due to mistrust between patients and doctors. The RTH bill will increase trust in the system, and c) Ensure doctors work hand-in-hand with the poor and the have-nots.

Why there are oppositions to the Right to health act?

-Assault on private “business model”: As per official data, more than 78% of healthcare in India is now delivered by private players. At this juncture, providing free emergency treatment and care will upset the entire private healthcare model foundation.

Doctors’ mistrust of the system: This is due to two key reasons a) There is no clear definition of what can be classified as a medical emergency, b) Bureaucratic and political control to admitting or reimbursing payment for patients. The protest shows doctors’ naivety in failing to embrace a historic moment in patient care in this country.

What should be done?

The easiest way to make the society good is to bring equality and justice and this may be at the cost of the physician’s ability to earn money. The RTH Bill just aims to achieve that.

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