Bhubaneswar: Healthcare in the private sector and the state government’s recently launched health insurance programme — Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana – came in for sharp criticism from an assembly of stakeholders who advocated a strong government healthcare system.
The state level health assembly organised here,Sunday drew more than 150 participants from organisations working in the health sector, activists, village leaders, academics, research and legal aid organisations, patients’ rights groups and Dalit community leaders from across the state. They shared their experiences of the problems faced to get health services in public and private facilities.
It discussed issues like inadequate heath budget for public health, highly privatised healthcare system, health, food and nutrition insecurity, high maternal mortality, regulation of clinical establishments and non- availability of free medicines. A status report will be prepared on the outcome which will be presented at the National Assembly to be held at Raipur from September 22 to23 as well as at the Global Health Assembly in Bangladesh November 15.
The participants discussed how the government health insurance programme such as Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana is the biggest privatisation initiative of the government which is leading to transfer of public funds to private sector and also resulting in catastrophic health expenditure for people seeking treatment in private hospitals.
Several persons from rural areas narrated the incidence of human rights violations and excessive charging of money in the private sector. Many even shared their experience of private hospitals withholding the dead bodies for money and how the private hospitals refused treatment against the insurance card.
Gourang Charan Mohapatra, State Convenor of Jana Swasthya Abhiyan and state health assembly, said the government has been neglecting its own public health system through under-resourcing and not approving adequate regular posts and mot carrying out recruitment thus failing in the implementation of the health schemes. Private practice by government doctors is another situation which is weakening the public health sector.
Tusharikanta Ray, a public health expert, said that Odisha government should use public funds to strengthen the government health system instead of transferring funds to the private health sector through the insurance system.
A strong government health system can cater to all the people of the state, especially the poor, tribal and vulnerable populations more effectively, he said.
A charter of demands ratified by the participants will be submitted to the political parties.