“Patient’s Voice, Citizens Initiative Campaign”, started by the Jan Arogya Abhiyan, conducted a unique voting for patients’ rights, concerning “demands for protecting patients’ rights, preventing exploitation of patients at private hospitals, including corporate hospitals, and improving the quality of healthcare in public hospitals.”
The voting took place in various parts of Pune district from June 15 to June 30. The results of the voting process were announced by the Abhiyan at Patrakar Bhavan on Saturday. Atul Pethe, theatre director; Poornima Chikarmane, unorganised workers’ leader; Prof Anjali Maydeo, Dr Abhay Shukla and Dr Abhijit More, health activists, were present.
In the unique voting process, 21,351 votes were cast. People from various residential societies, slums, villages, laughter clubs, companies, colleges, self help groups and “wari” participated. As many as 670 people voted online. The voting process was conducted at more than 80 places in Pune district. Government employees, doctors, nurses, IT professionals, unorganised workers, waste pickers, domestic helps, farmers, farm labourers, senior citizens, sex workers, people belonging to nomadic tribe community, auto drivers, teachers and people across all social strata participated in this voting.
When asked about the motto of the campaign, health activist Abhijit More said, “The campaign started with a perspective of “no to violence against doctors and yes to patients rights. Both doctors and patients will need to come together to solve the issues in the medical profession.”
The voting was based on three questions: Should Maharashtra government regulate and standardise private hospitals to check commercialisation? Should government take concrete steps to improve quality of care in public hospitals? Should government immediately enact legislation to protect patients’ rights?
Out of the 21,351 people who voted, an overwhelming 21,067 (98.7 per cent) voted in favour of bringing private hospitals under regulatory framework while 21,247 (99.5 per cent) agreed that government should take concrete measures to improve quality of care in public hospitals. 21,225 (99.4 per cent) people demanded enactment of legislation to protect patients’ rights. “This indicates that the people from all walks of life are dissatisfied with current health options and they strongly seek reforms in the healthcare system,” More said.
The campaign emphasised on poor quality of care in public hospitals, unrestrained commercialisation of healthcare, unindicated surgeries, unindicated investigations, prescribing costly medicines, cut practice, huge and unjustifiable profiteering in stents. “Profiteering seems to be the sole motive of hospitals… Hospitals must be required to follow protocols. The government is responsible to ensure that health care is offered within affordable limits,” said Poornima Chikarmane of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat.
Discussing about the unsound relationship of patients, doctors and government, Dr Abhay Shukla, co-convener of Jan Swasthya Yojana, said, “There is tension between the three stakeholders: government, patients and medical professionals.”
He called upon doctors to join the campaign and added that political representatives must take cognisance of the election and pass the act.
Malati Gadgil of Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, said she had witnessed a horrifying case where one of her workers from Taljai vasti was diagnosed with breast cancer. She went through two biopsies where her results showed negative. “But still doctors asked her for the third biopsy, which was painful, of which the results were same. The patient had to pay Rs 25,000 and had to take a loan.” She said the government should seriously consider National Health Policy and not just insurance policy.