“Make ‘right to health care’ justifiable through legislation”; demands ‘Health for All’

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India is in need of better and equal health infrastructure, Health for All campaign signals to the killing inequalities

Health for All campaign which is relaunched in a press conference held in Delhi on November 9th, seeks to make a fresh beginning for healthcare with doctors, paramedics, pharmacist, AYUSH doctors, health activists, social workers, NGOs, everyone working in the medical field from across India come across demanding law-making to make healthcare a basic right for all. Dr Kafeel Khan, suspended assistant professor in Pediatrics at Gorakhpur BRD medical college, Dr Harjit Singh Bhatti, president of Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum, Dr Shreya Singh, secretary of Medical Services Centre, and Mousumi Bhattacharjee, social worker and writer attended the Press Conference.

Dr Kafeel Khan and other socially committed doctors who had been actively intervening for equal health care rights for all citizens at different fronts are the ones who have come up with the innovative campaign named ‘Health for All’. They began their work post Gorakhpur medical college oxygen tragedy massacre that killed hundreds of children a day due to non-payment of dues to liquid oxygen vendor.

‘Health for All’ team that seeks to bring dynamic changes in the health infrastructure points out certain shocking facts about the status of Indian health system,

1-Public spending stagnated to 1.2% of total GDP to the world average of 6-8 %

2-India ranks 145th among 195 countries in terms of quality and accessibility of healthcare – The Lancet medical journal

3-India ranks 94th out of the 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI ).

4-India ranks 144 out of the 156 countries on the world happiness Index.

5-India ranks 129 among 189 countries in the 2019 human development index-UN.

6–India ranks 150th in female health and survival among 153 countries – Gender Gap Index

7-The fundamental aspect of healthcare — primary healthcare

— is in shambles. There is only one primary healthcare center (often manned by one doctor) for more than 51,000 people in the country

8- 40% of people that are hospitalized are pushed either into lifelong debt or below poverty(around 60 million/year).

9- Everyday 500-1000 people die of Covid-19 and 28000 due to non-Covid diseases

10- 50 % of children are malnourished and  one in two women of reproductive age is anemic

11- India reported 8.82 lakh under 5 years of child deaths, the highest in the world. UNICEF 2018

12-4.5 lakh people die of tuberculosis

13- India had the third-largest number of people living with HIV in the world,

14-India is the diabetes capital of the world-India is home to 77 million diabetics

15 -Private sector consists of 58% of the hospitals in the country, and 81% of doctors.

16-As India’s Covid-19 lockdown ends, a mental health crisis is looming

17-Air pollution, Winter, Influenza infection-Cocktail could exacerbate the severity and spread of corona virus in coming months – Children could become a super spreader.

Corona pandemic has pushed fragile India’s public health system which was already overstretched, overburdened on the verge of collapse.

As specified in the press conference, the demands of this campaign are as following,

1- Universal access to good quality health care services without anyone having to face financial hardship–for all at all ages irrespective of caste/religion/region/gender/disability/ economic status-free consultation/drugs/diagnostics and free emergency care services in all public hospitals.

Make the “Right to Healthcare ” a justifiable right through the enactment of appropriate legislation.

2-Increase public health expenditure to 5 % of the GDP.

3-All Indians to get free COVID-19 vaccine once available.

4- Uninterrupted supply of Oxygen, PPE kits, ICU equipment, Medicines, Sanitizers.

5- Immediate & legible Compensation in case of corona warriors’ death.

6- Increase free testing capacity, Immediate Sero -Survey of Covid-19 Antibodies to all over  India to know the real extent of the disease.

7- Curb on rumors, unscientific views.

8- Re-distribution of all resources taking care of Non-Covid diseases.

9- Fill all the existing vacancies and create new jobs every year.

10- Abolish NMC( National Medical Commission ).

Continued Suspension of Dr Kafeel Khan

The campaign also is focused on the continued suspension of Dr Kafeel Khan who still faces vindictive victimization for pointing out the government inaction in a government medical college in Uttar Pradesh. When all other professionals who are suspended post Gorakhpur medical college oxygen tragedy are reinstated, Dr Kafeel Khan continues to be suspended with a jail term that amounts to more than a year.

Dr. Kafeel Khan has been suspended for the past 1200 days since 22nd August 2017 (First time after the BRD oxygen tragedy and second time after the Enquiry Committee report on 31st July 2019). Even though the Supreme Court of India says that suspension should not be more than 90 days. BRD oxygen tragedy happened on 10th August 2017, which killed many children. The reason was the stoppage of the supply of liquid oxygen due to the non-payment of dues to the vendor. To hide Government failure, Dr. Kafeel Khan was made a scapegoat and imprisoned for nine months, though he left no stone unturned in saving the lives of kids on that day.

‘Health for All’ team informed that they are concerned that his suspension has not been revoked for the last three years despite 9 different inquiries, when the High Court has given him clean chit on medical negligence and corruption. All other doctors who were suspended with him have been reinstated.

These 9 inquiries reports are-

1-District Magistrate, Gorakhpur, Uttar-Pradesh submitted on 12 August 2017.

2-Commissioner, Gorakhpur zone, Uttar Pradesh submitted on 16th August 2017.

3-Director General of Medical Education, Uttar Pradesh submitted his report on 18 August 2017.

4- SGPGI, Lucknow team headed by Dr. Hem Chandra submitted on 18 August 2017.

5– Central Government Health ministry inquiry headed by Dr. Hrish Chelani Prof & Head VMMC, submitted on 14th August 2017.

7-Chief Secretary to Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh submitted on 21st August 2017.

8–High Court initiated inquiry submitted in September 2017

9-Departmental Inquiry Headed by Principal Secretary Stamp and registration Mr. Himanshu Kumar submitted on 18th April 2019

Till date, Dr Kafeel Khan has written more than 25 letters to the authorities requesting them to revoke his suspension. The last 3 letters were written on 18th September 2020 /13 October 2020 and 07/11/2020.

Dr Kafeel Khan has written latter to IMA ( Indian medical association) ,IAP (Indian Academy of Paediatric), NNF (National Neonatology Forum), PMSF ( Progressive Medicos and Scientific Forum ) and MSC (Medical Services Centre ) medical professionals bodies seeking their intervention to help him in getting his suspension revoked. Medical services center (MSC )  and Progressive Medicos and scientists forum ( PMSF )has already written a letter to demand his suspension should be revoked immediately specifically because of the coronavirus pandemic and extreme shortage of doctors, so that he could work as a corona warrior.

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