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New Addition to our Fundamental Rights guaranteed by The Constitution: ‘Right to Health’, Read Draft

Health is a Fundamental Right
Health is a Fundamental Right

February,28,2016: In a step towards increasing accessibility and availability of healthcare services for all, the Central Council of Health and Family Welfare held a high-level meeting on Saturday to discuss the draft National Health Policy which has suggested making health a fundamental right.

The draft policy has been pending for the last one year after being placed in public domain in January 2015 seeking stakeholder comments and suggestions. The council, headed by health minister JP Nadda, met with various state representatives and public health experts to deliberate on the draft policy.
The draft policy highlights issues of universal health coverage along with maternal and infant mortality. The draft for the new policy, after a gap of 13 years, suggests increasing public healthcare expenditure to 2.5% of GDP.
It also recommends access to free drugs and diagnostics and changes in laws to make healthcare more accessible. Another suggestion put forward is an option to explore creation of a health cess.
Nadda stated the purpose of the meeting was to seek feedback and suggestions from the states, experts and civil society organisations. The ministry has received close to 5000 suggestions on how to improve its various dimensions to make it “people-centric”. The draft policy is to be taken to the Cabinet soon. Nadda said the new policy is being framed in the era of the sustainable development goals, and the deliberations at the Council will help in drawing a roadmap for the way forward.

The National Health Policy envisages an implementation framework to deliver on policy commitments. Such an implementation framework would specify approved financial allocations and link them with measurable numerical output targets and time schedules.

The proposed policy highlights a major challenge prevailing in the health sector. It says, “There are unfortunately a number of laws that have over time developed inadequacies due to changed contexts and a number of newly emerged services and technologies where laws are needed.”

Laws under review include the Mental Health Bill, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, the Bill regulating surrogate pregnancy and assisted reproductive technologies, Food Safety Act, Drugs and Cosmetics Act and the Clinical Establishments Act. The process of aligning many of these laws to meet people’s needs and changed circumstances and understanding becomes one of the urgent tasks in the coming years.

In the past, the government of India had drafted national health policies twice—1983 and 2002.


International covenants
The proposal for a National Health Rights Act comes after a debate on whether India should pass a Bill to make health a fundamental right as was done for education. “Many industrialised nations have laws that do so. Many of the developing nations that have made significant progress towards universal health coverage, such as Brazil and Thailand, have done so, and … such a law is a major contributory factor.

A number of international covenants to which we [India] are joint signatories give us such a mandate — and this could be used to make a national law. Courts have also rulings that, in effect, see health care as a fundamental right — and a constitutional obligation flowing out of the right to life,” the draft policy says.

Pointing out that there has been a 10-year discussion on this issue “without a resolution,” the draft questions whether India has reached the level of development in economic and health systems to make this a justiciable right — implying that its denial is an offence.

Read Medical Laws @ LatestLaws.in-

Read Full Text of National Health Policy,2015 Here-

National Health Policy,2015 Draft

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