Rajasthan is the first state to recognize the right to health

The Rajasthan Assembly passed the Right to Health (RTH) Bill, despite physicians’ continued protests calling for the Bill’s abolition.

RTH (Right to Health): A mental realization

  • RTH is a fundamental human right that ensures everyone the right to the best possible physical and mental health.
  • It is recognized as an essential component of the right to an adequate standard of living and is protected by international human rights legislation.

The scope of RTH

  • Access to healthcare services, clean water and sanitation, sufficient nutrition, healthy living and working conditions, health education, and disease prevention are all covered under RTH.
  • Healthcare services that are accessible, cheap, and of high quality
  • Removing obstacles to healthcare access
  • Informed consent to medical care and access to health information.

What is the Rajasthan Right to Health Bill?

  • RTH grants every resident of the state the right to free Out Patient Department (OPD) and In Patient Department (IPD) services at all public health centers and select private facilities.
  • A broader range of healthcare services will be provided for free, including consultation, drugs, diagnostics, emergency transit, procedures, and emergency care. However, conditions are outlined in the rules that will be developed.
  • Residents are eligible to emergency treatment and care without having to pay any fees or charges in advance.
  • No treatment delays: In medico-legal situations, hospitals cannot postpone treatment based on police clearance.
  • State reimbursement of charges: If patients do not pay required charges after emergency treatment and stabilization, healthcare providers can receive appropriate reimbursement from the state government.

Rajasthan’s existing programs

  • The flagship Chiranjeevi Health Insurance Scheme offers free treatment up to Rs 10 lakh, which was raised to Rs 25 lakh in the most recent budget.
  • The Rajasthan Government Health Scheme provides health insurance to government workers, ministers, current and former MLAs, and others.
  • The Nishulk Nirogi Rajasthan plan covers approximately 1,600 medicines, 928 surgicals, and 185 sutures and offers free OPD and IPD services in government hospitals.
  • Between March and December 2022, the Free Test Scheme provided up to 90 free tests in government institutions, benefiting 2.93 crore people.

The RTH Scheme is required

  • The state prioritizes healthcare and aspires to be a model of excellent health.
  • The Health Minister has gotten numerous complaints about private hospitals charging patients with the Chiranjeevi card.
  • As a result, they are enacting a new rule to prevent this.
  • The new legislation will ensure that future governments adhere to it and provide free healthcare to all citizens.

The RTH Law’s Controversy: Emergency Care Provisions

  • In the RTH, emergency care was a contentious topic.
  • According to the clause, people have the right to emergency treatment and care in the event of an accident, an emergency caused by a snake bite/animal bite, or any other emergency determined by the State Health Authority under specified emergency circumstances.
  • Emergency therapy and care are available without the payment of any fees or charges.
  • Emergency care can be provided by public or private health organizations that are competent to provide such care or treatment based on their level of health care.

Healthcare workers’ concerns

  • Existing plan burden: Doctors are protesting the RTH because they question its necessity in light of existing schemes such as Chiranjeevi, which serve the majority of the population.
  • Concerns about specialization: They are also opposed to certain clauses, such as defining “emergency” and being forced to treat patients outside their field as part of an emergency.
  • Unnecessary responsibilities: Because the Bill allows patients to choose the source of getting medicines or tests at all healthcare establishments, hospitals cannot insist on in-house medicines or tests.

Way ahead

  • Given the Bill’s contentious character, it is critical that all stakeholders come to the table and participate in constructive dialogue to resolve the issues at hand.
  • It should include liaison between the government, doctors, patient advocate groups, and other relevant stakeholders to discuss and identify potential solutions to the concerns expressed by all parties.
  • Following that, the Bill could be revised to incorporate feedback and ideas from all stakeholders, as well as a renewed effort to build consensus and support for the legislation.
  • Furthermore, more efforts could be made to improve transparency and accountability in the healthcare system, with an emphasis on teaching patients about their rights.
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