The Indian Medical Association (IMA) is planning to launch an initiative in which it will act as a think tank as well as a support and pressure group to the government at the national and state levels to bring health to the forefront of the agenda of political parties.
“The ‘Health First’ initiative aims is to provide a holistic approach to the healthcare sector with the common man as a focal point,” said Dr Avinash Bhondwe, president-elect, IMA (Maharashtra), on Thursday.
The IMA, which has more than 3 lakh modern medicine doctors as direct members across the country and another 5 lakh indirect members through its wings such as junior doctor network, medical students network, federation of medical association and women’s wing, released a health manifesto on Thursday.
“In our manifesto, we have demanded increased public expenditure in healthcare, universal health coverage through government funding, private-public partnership facilitated by not-for-profit institutions, emphasis on primary care and rural healthcare, structured universal three-tier reference system, primary, secondary and tertiary care, no criminalisation of medical profession, and public funded quality medical education, governed by autonomous democratic regulation,” said Bhondwe.
“The allocation of 1.1 per cent of GDP for health services speaks volumes about the apathy of successive governments towards this important determinant of social and economical progress of a nation,” said Dr Hozie Kapadia, president of IMA (Maharashtra).
Among its other demands: there should be no dilution of scientific concepts in curriculum and no traditional system of treatment should be mainstreamed, the autonomy, democratic nature and federal structure of regulatory bodies and academic institutions should be maintained, self-governance of medical and allied professionals should be ensured and all states should be represented in decision making and the democratically elected Medical Council of India should be restored.
The IMA has also said a Medical Grants Commission should be set up to fund medical education, co-coordinating between medical universities and ensuring advanced research in medicine.
IMA office bearers said there was a need for incentive based approach with improved administration and infrastructure to tackle shortage of medical manpower. The IMA has also sought for a strong, Central government law to prevent violence against healthcare providers and a restructuring of the Ayushmaan Bharat programme with realistic package rates and timely disbursal of funds.