JAN SWASTHYA ABHIYAN RAJASTHAN DEMANDS THE GOVERNMENT TO REVOKE THE ORDER MAKING AADHAR CARD MANDATORY FOR COVID TESTS IN THE STATE
(Letter in Hindi and the Govt. order enclosed)
PRESS RELEASE, 29/07/2020, JAIPUR
Jan Swasthya Abhiyan Rajasthan in its letter to the Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot today has expressed its extreme concern regarding the order which makes Aadhar card mandatory for COVID tests in the state and has demanded that the rule be revoked immediately (Please refer to the order enclosed, page-3, point no. 7). The rule has apparently been enforced by the state to ensure effective tracking of COVID patients. However, the letter from JSA Rajasthan has conveyed the following concerns :
1) Making Aadhaar Card or any other identity card for that matter mandatory for COVID-19 test or treatment will inevitably affect people’s access to these services. Many individuals and families, especially those who belong to highly disadvantaged communities, or are homeless or nomadic, do not normally possess any identity cards. However, they are still at an equal risk of getting infected by a disease or spreading it around once infected just like others are, or may be even more. In such a grave time when we are all grappling with one of the worst pandemic the world has ever seen, having any such sort of criteria where one could be denied essential health care just because of ones inability to produce an identity card would force thousands of people to remain deprived of life saving diagnostics and treatment. It is thus not only extremely insensitive on the part of the govt. to come out with such a rule but it also amounts to an outright violation of people’s right to life as enshrined in the constitution..
2) The deficiencies, errors and irregularities in the Aadhar card have been repeatedly exposed in various studies and investigations. Given this, there’s no certainty to what extent the information recorded in the Aadhar card like the address, phone number etc. can be relied on. Also, the information recorded in the Aadhar card at the time of initial application may not hold true today for many as people migrate, shift homes, or change their phone numbers without ensuring that these information are altered in the govt. records, which many find a lengthy cumbersome process. The same issues also apply to most of the other identity cards. In such a situation, prioritizing and relying on only the information recorded on an identity card for tracking patients during a pandemic is not a wise decision. This may only lead to more problems with tracking rather than reducing them.
3) Depriving anyone of COVID-19 test or treatment solely because they do not have the required identity card, will completely thwart the government’s efforts to control the pandemic. As we know, even if a single COVID positive person in the community goes undetected, then he or she may inadvertently spread the infection to many more people. Denying suspected people tests for a reason which barely has a rationale would mean that the government is giving them a free hand to spread the infection further. Therefore, bringing about any rule or policy which may create barriers to people’s access to COVID-19 tests or treatment or lead to denial of these services should be detested and refrained from.
Jan Swasthya Abhiyan Rajasthan demanded the following :
1) The Government should immediately revoke the rule which makes Aadhar card mandatory for COVID investigation and issue a clear order in this regard.
2) The state must come out with a clear statement through newspapers and social media for public information regarding abrogation of the rule.
3) All government and private COVID hospitals, testing centers, sample collection centers and lab technicians should be given clear instructions that no one should be denied COVID test or treatment on the grounds of not having an Aadhaar card or any other identity card