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Rahul Gandhi in Raipur: Considering ‘right to healthcare’ in Congress manifesto for Lok Sabha polls 2019

He also said he was “aggressively invested” in increasing the education and health budgets if the Congress was to come to power — the former to “about 5 or 6 per cent of the GDP”, and the latter to “about 3 per cent of the GDP.”

Rahul Gandhi, Rahul in raipur, rahul gandhi raipur rally, right to healthcare, rahul gandhi on right to healthcare, rahul on right to healthcare, lok sabha elections, lok sabha polls, lok sabha elections, lok sabha polls 2019, election news, indian express Rahul Gandhi said that no country in the 21st century could be successful if it did not solve the problems of employment, education and health.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi announced Friday that the party was considering a “Right to Healthcare Act”, which would guarantee “certain minimum healthcare” to all citizens in the country as a key plank of the party’s manifesto in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. He also said he was “aggressively invested” in increasing the education and health budgets if the Congress was to come to power — the former to “about 5 or 6 per cent of the GDP”, and the latter to “about 3 per cent of the GDP.” Within minutes of Gandhi’s announcement in Raipur, Congress Manifesto Committee Chairman P Chidambaram reiterated this on Twitter and said the Congress president had made the promise of a “Right to Healthcare Act guaranteeing every citizen right to healthcare services, including free diagnostics and medicines, through a network of public hospitals.”

Interacting with healthcare professionals and experts from around the country in a question and answer session in Raipur at a convention on Universal Healthcare by the Mayaram Surjan Foundation, Gandhi talked about three things the Congress is considering in the national manifesto. “Number one, we are looking at a Right to Healthcare Act, where we guarantee certain minimum healthcare to all Indians. Number two, we are looking towards increasing the healthcare expenditure to about 3 per cent of GDP. And number three, we are thinking about increasing the number of doctors, number of professionals we train in the country dramatically. Those are the three directions we are taking at the national level.” Click here for more election news

Gandhi said that no country in the 21st century could be successful if it did not solve the problems of employment, education and health. “A Congress government in 2019 is going to dramatically increase the amount of money we put into healthcare and education. We are not going to put money in ways which allow limited number of people to make massive amounts of money,” Gandhi said, adding that that is how he views the Ayushmaan Bharat scheme. According to him, it is a limited scheme targeting a limited number of healthcare issues. “I think it’s a handout to the 15-20 businessmen in India. I am absolutely convinced you need public expenditure in healthcare and education, not only private but public,” he said. However, he admitted that there is a role for private institutions. “There is a role for businesses, there is a role for insurance. There is even a role for private providers of healthcare. But the foundation, in my view, has to be government and public sector,” Gandhi observed. Follow LIVE Updates

He said he doesn’t think of this as an impossible goal. Mentioning the Rajasthan model and the development works going on in Chhattisgarh, he said these are some places one can look to find solutions. “But I am committed, and aggressively committed to taking the education expenditure to 5 to 6 per cent, and healthcare expenditure to about 3 per cent,” he said.

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Gandhi also said that he was critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s flagship Ayushman Bharat scheme for the inability of the country’s healthcare structure to support such an insurance scheme. “One of my major criticisms of Ayushman Bharat is that you are giving insurance, but you don’t have a structure of hospitals, of medical professionals which can support that insurance. Go to Bihar, go to UP. Even if you give insurance, which hospital will people go to? That is a fundamental question,” he said, adding that without the capacity to deliver medical care, no insurance can work. “So, a full network will have to built in every state.”

He pointed out that he is not the one to tell the medical practitioners there what the solution should be. “I have not come with this attitude that I have the answers to all questions. I am not a medical healthcare professional, you are. So who am I to come here and tell you what I think, what your solution should be. You have to tell me what your solutions are. I have to go and implement those solutions,” he said. “That is the difference between us and the BJP.”

Asked of failing healthcare standards in areas with high indigenous populations such as Chhattisgarh, Gandhi admitted that there is a dramatic failure in education, healthcare and other basic needs in the state and said it is hugely because of the way the BJP and RSS think of development. “The reason the tribals do not get a fair deal is because their voice is not heard. And their voice is not as well organised as other institutions or communities. So I think what I am pushing the chief minister and other members of the cabinet to do is to be sensitive about listening to people, to be sensitive about listening to tribals, and to try and understand in detail what their requirements are, and to work with them and fulfil them.”

First published on: 15-03-2019 at 15:49 IST
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