New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission is mulling to come out with a draft legislation that seeks to protect the rights of patients and ensure that standard treatment is made available to everyone.

The Commission has also written to the Centre and state governments with regard to the rise in the number of people inflicted by silicosis, a respiratory disease caused by breathing in silica dust, asking them to take steps to give priority to such patients in all hospitals.

PC Sharma, member, NHRC, said the trend of patients “surrendering themselves before doctors” should end and every patient should have the right to know what kind of disease he has been inflicted with and the kind of treatment needed.

“We have asked the Government for the need (for a legislation). We are trying to make a draft with the help of NGOs. We are of the opinion that at least there should be a draft. Just as you can demand the right to education and equality, one should get the right to health also,” he told reporters here.

“We want a legislation which says that the doctor should tell the patient about his disease and other details. Now the patient goes and surrenders himself before the doctor. There are instances where doctors don’t listen to patients and just give them some medicines,” he said.

On silicosis, the NHRC member said all states have been asked to take precautions under the Industries Act and make sure that employees undergo periodic health check-up.

“We have also told the states that they should instruct hospitals that such patients should be treated immediately. Many hospitals don’t treat them by giving some reasons. This should be stopped,” he said.
Sharma said urgent attention has to be given for development of infrastructure in hospitals in the country and also expressed concerned over the “widespread” racket in sub- standard medicine.

He also said the NHRC wants the Centre to come out with an Act on prevention of silicosis as the disease affects mostly the poorer sections of the society.

Notices were sent to a number of states where deaths have occurred due to the disease and only Rajasthan responded positively by giving Rs three lakh to the families of the victims of silicosis.

“Silicosis, hitherto, remains a neglected area. This is a disease which is irreversible. Victims of this disease are mostly migrants who are in search of jobs. Protection to them is granted under labour laws, but these things are not followed,” he said.

He also claimed that in some cases state government authorities refused to look into complaints of people afflicted with the diseases because they were from the unorganised sector.

“This is the most serious grievous violation of human rights,” he said.

Sharma said the NHRC is also concerned about the lack of doctors in the field of mental health and asked the MCI to add mental health as part of curriculum for MBBS students.

He also said this disease cannot be cured only medically but also needed proper care by families.

Source- NHRC Release