Monday, February 11, 2008

Rewrite the health petition

The petition initiative ( targeting Health Minister must be revised, rewritten and made holistic. It should also be updated and should target Finance Minister.

Currently, Union Health Secretary is Naresh Dayal (not Mr J V R Prasad Rao) who is seized with the corruption in the health sector. An inquiry is underway since 2006 by the Central Bureau of Investigation in the health projects.

Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report that was tabled before Parliament in November 2007 revealed that mismanagement rules the roost in the department of health and family welfare and in government-run hospitals. The petition must include these and other aspects as well.

The petition notes that "80% of the population lives in rural areas, but 80% of health provision is urban. Over 85% of health provision is through private enterprise" but does not articulate any specific solution and does not state that private health sector in India is burgeoning, but at the cost of public health care.

A Transparency International survey had noted that 30% of patients in government hospitals informed that they had had to pay bribes or use influence. This aspect also needs to be addressed.

The petition refers to the recommendations made in the World Bank Report, "India, raising the sights: better health systems for India's poor. Health, Nutrition, Population Sector Unit, India, South Asia Region, 2001" but does not suggest any remedy in recognition of the conclusion of the report. The report concluded: "The hospitalised Indian spends more than half his total annual expenditure on buying healthcare; more than 40% of hospitalised people borrow money or sell assets to cover their expenses, and 35% fall below the poverty line."

It appears that the petition is quite "Medical Council of India" and "medical practitioner's salary" centric. It fails to note that although expenditure on health has increased in absolute terms, the proportion of GDP it represents has declined despite the promises made by th UPA government.

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