COVID-19: PIL demands nationalisation of health sector

File photo of Supreme Court.

Satya Prakash

New Delhi, April 8

As India faces a national health crisis due to COVID-19, a PIL filed in the Supreme Court on Wednesday sought nationalisation of healthcare sector and related services till the pandemic was contained. 

The fight against the novel coronavirus would require a great deal of reliance on healthcare facilities and the public health sector is not sufficiently equipped to handle this requirement alone, petitioner advocate Amit Dwivedi submitted.

He demanded that the private sector must also be roped in and “all healthcare facilities, all 36 institutes, all companies and all entities related to healthcare sector” must be nationalised to defeat the pandemic.

Dwivedi contended that right to health was part of right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution and the Supreme Court the right to receive necessary treatment has been held to be an inalienable part of right to life of a person.  

He said it was a well known fact that India’s public healthcare system was not in good shape due to lack of expenditure on the sector.

In the Budget of 2020, India chose to allocate only 1.6% of its total estimated budget  expenditure on public health i.e. Rs 67,489 crores, and that is very less even in comparison to the most of the poor/low-income countries of the world, Dwivedi pointed out.

“For years expenditure on public health facilities has been low and as a result of which India’s public health infrastructure is substandard and inadequate, more peculiar in the time of pandemics like COVID-19, in comparison to the world and unfortunately we could not see much development in this front,” he submitted.

“In this scenario, most of the population is compelled to spend out of their pocket for basic health services and as a result of which 80% of Outside Patient Department (OPD) consultations were in private sector and 60% of Inside Patient Department (IPD) treatments happened in the private sector, a well researched paper titled ‘The private health sector in India is burgeoning but at the cost of public healthcare’ pointed out,” the petition read.

“In fact, in a country like India where majority of population is not resourceful considering  the fact that in the ranking list based on purchasing power parity, hereinafter, “PPP”, of  per capita GDP prepared by International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2017 India ranked 126 out  of all the countries with a per capita income of  7,170$ much behind other developing countries like Brazil and South Africa having per capita GDP as 15,500$  and 13,400$  respectively then the lack of public healthcare facilities in the time of pandemic like the present one and its impacts can indeed be disastrous,” Dwivedi submitted.

Tribune News Service