Saturday, May 31, 2014


Shri Harsh Vardhan
Hon’ble Minister of Health and Family Welfare
Government of India
Nirman Bhawan, C-wing
New Delhi-110001
Subject: Request for making Right to Public Health a Fundamental Right and enacting a National Legislation on Right to Public Health
Dear Harsh Vardhan Ji
I extend my warm and heartiest congratulations to you on assuming the office of the Health Minister of India. The people of this country have very high expectations from you that your tenure shall bring positive changes to their lives. I personally hope and believe that your efforts shall be directed towards the betterment of the poorest of the poor.
The deplorable state of public health system in our country is no secret. For the people belonging to the poor strata of our society and to a great extent even the middle class, who are solely dependent upon the public health system, the system offers nothing substantial. The private health-care system, in view of its hefty cost, is not for the masses. Yet, the scarcity of services in the public health system forces people to go to private hospitals, and a large number of people are forced to take loans or to sell off or mortgage their permanent assets in the course of treatment and still fail to pay the hospital-dues. Nearly 25% of these people get relegated below the poverty line. There is thus no alternative to an efficient public health system for the masses of our country.
Presently, there are no laws on Right to Public Health, neither in the states, nor at the Centre. The state of public health is generally poor though there are state-wise variations. These variations compel people from the hinter-lands, and even from states far away, to come to the Metropolitans such as Delhi leading to further over-crowding of the already inadequate public health set-ups in the Metropolitans. Critically ill patients in urgent need of treatment are often given dates after dates running into several months and even years due to inadequate capacity of the system.
Right to public health is a natural concomitant to the Right to Life, as guaranteed to all persons under Article 21 of our Constitution. However, unless and until clear-cut and specific provisions chalking out the details of this right are drawn, the people would continue to be at the mercy of the system. It is therefore imperative and high time now that concrete steps are taken to make this right into an independent Fundamental and statutory Right on the lines of the Right to Education.
In order to do so, firstly, the Part III of Constitution of India should be amended and Right to Public health should be incorporated as a Fundamental Right. Secondly, keeping in view the significance of this subject, public health, presently a state-subject in List-II, should be transferred to List-III, i.e. the Concurrent List. Thirdly, a national legislation should be enacted on Right to Public Health on the lines of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009.
You are requested to kindly take the above steps to achieve this goal of public health for all, as early as possible, in order to ameliorate the conditions of the masses of this country and to make their lives meaningful and dignified.
With warm regards
Ashok Agarwal Advocate
Advisor, Social Jurist
M: 9811101923

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