July 28, 2021 2:42:27 am
The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued notice on a plea which said the Covid-19 spread has “exposed the lacunae in Indian healthcare system” and sought “proper implementation of Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010” and rules framed thereunder, which among others seeks to fix rates for various procedures in clinical diagnostic labs.
A bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justice Surya Kant issued notice on the plea filed by Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Patients’ Rights Campaign, and Mumbai-based health laws researcher Gopakumar K M.
The plea also seeks implementation of the Patient Rights’ Charter issued by National Human Rights Commission in August 2018 “to ensure affordable and quality healthcare” to people across the country.
The plea said there has been a shift in focus from public health sector to private healthcare, due to which a need was felt for regulation and standardisation of clinical establishments and active promotion and adoption of standard treatment guidelines for these sectors, and protection of patients’ rights in clinical establishments. These include the right to information, access to medical records and reports, informed consent, confidentiality and privacy, it added.
Although health is a state subject, Article 252(1) of the Constitution permits Parliament to make law on subjects over which it has no power to make laws, “if it appears to the Legislatures of two or more States to be desirable” that there should be a Central law. Accordingly, the 2010 Act was enacted after Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Sikkim agreed to have a central legislation. Other states and UTs could opt to adopt it.
At present, the Act is applicable in 11 states and six UTs, while 18 states/UTs have their own independent legislation.
However, even in states/UTs where the “Act/Rules are applicable, the implementation is effectively nil”, the petition said. It submitted that “a similar situation of lack of implementation” prevails in other states that have their own law.
The “lack of uniform legislation and implementation”, it said, “results in an absence of effective regulation and a corresponding violation of the right to health under Article 21”. It said that the “recent developments with the spread of Covid-19 virus have exposed the lacunae in the Indian healthcare system and have highlighted the need for proper implementation of the CEA 2010 and Rules 2012 and the existence of a uniformly regulated and effective healthcare system in the country”.
The Act and the Rules provide for registration and regulation of clinical establishments and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto, namely, to prescribe minimum standards of facilities and services, to ensure affordable and quality healthcare. The Patient Rights’ Charter (notified by the NHRC) affirms and adopts a rights-based health care regime for the patients.
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