Access to healthcare: Draft National Health Bill

Two recent pieces on access to healthcare may interest our readers:
(i) this Outlook story shows how the meager healthcare resources at AIIMS that are currently accessible by the poor may not continue to be so if recent policy recommendations are accepted. Not that it would make too much of a difference in a system where almost all quality healthcare is private and prohibitively expensive for a good section of the population.
(ii) Krishnamoorthy’s opinion in the Hindu examines certain policy options for providing meaningful universal access to healthcare.

A January 2009 version of the Draft National Health Bill is available here. I have not given it more than a cursory glance, but the Bill appears to incorporate ‘progressive realisation’ and ‘minimum core’ standards well-established in international and comparative (esp South African) law. Colin Gonzalves takes a critical look at the Bill here.

Barring one exception, this blog has not discussed this very important issue of right to health in any detail. I hope that this post will encourage our readers to analyse and comment upon the draft Bill.

Update: This opinion piece in today’s Hindu on the medical policy and absence of doctors in rural areas may also be interesting.

Written by
Tarunabh Khaitan
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  • The economist T. N. Srinivasan has noted that health care can be divided into two categories: "preventive" and "curative." The terms are pretty much self-explanatory. For our country, it is the former that is more important: a lot of good can come from things like clean drinking water. The fact that this is still not available is illustrated by the fact that almost all middle-class homes seem to have a "water purifier" and there is a roaring business in dubious "mineral water."

    Yet, almost all the debate on health care is focused on the latter. Srinivisan has noted that health care spending is grossly tilted towards the latter category. So while we take pride in our "super-speciality hospitals" and the like, people continue dying from diseases which are eminently preventable through adequate nutrition and clean drinking water.

    I hope the debate focuses on both categories rather than just the curative aspect.