Millions of people worldwide still have no access to healthcare. Millions more are forced to choose between healthcare and other daily expenses such as food, clothing and even a home. The World Health Organisation is focusing on universal health coverage for this year’s World Health Day, on April 7.
What are your plans as the new chief of IMA?
My plans are to step up health awareness in society, conduct haemoglobin check-up and medical guidance camps for women that is the Pink Health programme by the IMA headquarters. We will also focus on CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training programmes for non-medicos, especially police, firefighters, autorickshaw drivers, PMT (Pune Municipal Transport) workers, newspaper vendors among others. The IMA will also increase involvement of college students in health check-up camps and awareness campaigns and promote blood donation drives. The association will support anti-tobacco campaigns in schools and colleges and we also plan to start a sports club for IMA members.
You were also with the Hospital Board of India, Pune Chapter. What works did you undertake to protect the interests of smaller hospitals?
We have more than 180 hospitals as members and last year, we successfully handled the issue of renewal of hospital registration in Pune city. We formed 12 rush teams for security against healthcare violence. There are other issues that are being worked upon such as nurse training, insurance/TPA (third party administrator) issues. The HBAI (Hospital Board of India) also worked at increasing liaison with regulatory authorities.
Recently, the IMA protested against the National Medical Commission Bill, 2017, Indian Medical Council (Amendments) Bill, 2018, and Consumer Protection Bill, 2018. What is the road ahead?
As of today, these bills have been stalled at Parliament. The IMA HQ and all branches took a stand and opposed these bills by providing and explaining an alternative. We will oppose again. These bills are unlikely to be passed, seeing that the IMA has taken a tough stand.
Why is private healthcare opposing the Clinical Establishment Act (CEA)? What is the status at present?
Basically, in Maharashtra, we have adopted the Bombay Nursing Home Act, so there is no need for the CEA. But after detailed deliberations, we have submitted suggestions and inputs to the state government. To highlight some, the clause of stabilising patient should be changed to basic emergency care, single doctor establishments should be exempt and there should be a single window clearance among others.
Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, what are the main demands that doctors have for political parties?
The IMA, the national association of more than 3 lakh modern medicine doctors, as direct members across the country and another five lakh indirect members through its wings such as junior doctor network, medical student network, federation of medical association, women\’s wing, propose to launch a ‘health first’ initiative. The aim of the initiative is to provide a holistic approach to the healthcare sector with the public as the focal point.
Through this initiative, we wish to offer services as a think tank, support and pressure group to the government, both at national and state level, so as to bring health at the forefront on the agenda of political parties. The health manifesto includes increasing public expenditure in healthcare, universal health coverage through government funding, private public partnership facilitated by non-profit institutions and emphasis on primary care and rural healthcare, among other demands.
What are your views on Ayushman Bharat?
Packages offered under this scheme are unscientific, which will lead to compromise on quality. Also, we demand a trust model instead of an insurance model. In some states, many hospitals have stopped this scheme due to problems such as delayed, partial or non-payment of authorised amount to hospitals that are treating patients in this scheme.