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Supreme Court seeks Centre’s response on plea saying right to health has taken back seat

Topics Covered: Separation of powers between various organs dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions.

Supreme Court seeks Centre’s response on plea saying right to health has taken back seat:


Context:

A petition filed in the Supreme Court has said fundamental right to health had taken a back seat as patients were forced to choose between expensive private care and an “inadequate” public health sector, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to respond to the petition.

 

What are the demands by the petitioners?

They have asked for the proper implementation of the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act of 2010, the Clinical Establishment (Central Government) Rules of 2012 and the Patients’ Rights Charter.

 

How has the “Right to Health” taken backseat during Covid times?

  1. The regulation of standards in clinical establishments adopted as a national policy goal by the Government of India nearly two decades ago is yet to be effectively implemented across the country. This is a denial of the right to a dignified life.
  2. Minimum healthcare is also assured under Articles 21, 41 and 47 of the Constitution and the international covenants. These rights were not available to the citizens because of inadequate public healthcare Infrastructure.
  3. The “situation today is that more than 70% patient care is provided by the private sector and less than 30% patients use the public sector”.

 

What needs to be done?

There are reports of skyrocketing private hospital charges for COVID-19 treatment.

Therefore, a grievance redressal mechanism should be made available to patients at district, State and national levels.

  • This mechanism would look into grievances of the patients at different levels.
  • This would include denial of patients’ rights by the hospitals/ clinics and failure to provide minimum care and facilities as provided under the Clinical Establishments Act and Rules.

 

Basis of Right to Health:

  1. Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees a fundamental right to life & personal liberty. The right to health is inherent to a life with dignity.
  2. Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP): Articles 38, 39, 42, 43, & 47 put the obligation on the state in order to ensure the effective realization of the right to health.
  3. The Supreme Court in Paschim Bangal Khet Mazdoor Samity case (1996) held that in a welfare state, the primary duty of the government is to secure the welfare of the people and moreover it is the obligation of the government to provide adequate medical facilities for its people.
  4. India is also a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) by the United Nations that grants the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being to humans including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services.

 

Insta Curious: 

What does the WHO constitution define Health as? Read Here

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. Right to Health under the Indian Constitution.
  2. Related constitutional provisions.
  3. About the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).
  4. Related Supreme Court Judgments.

Mains Link:

Discuss the relevance of the Right to Health today.

Sources: the Hindu.