Special Correspondent

 Bangalore, December 16, 2012 , The Hindu

Participants of a convention on ‘Universal Access to Health Care’, organised in the city by the Janaarogya Andolana Karnataka (JAAK) on Saturday, resolved to oppose privatisation of the public health system in all forms.

The aim was to bring together communities and organisations in support of the demand for free, universal and comprehensive healthcare to people from all sections of society.

Discussions at the convention focussed on the Union government’s proposed changes in the health policy as drafted in the 12th Five-Year Plan.

“The Planning Commission in its 12th Five-Year Plan’s draft chapter on health is suggesting several dangerous moves in the health policy designed to strengthen the unregulated, profit-oriented private health sector and further weaken and decimate the public health system,” said Akhila Vasan from JAAK.

‘Flawed models’

“Under the pretext of providing universal access to healthcare, the Centre is pushing two seriously flawed models of healthcare — the managed care model and insurance. Both of these have been found to be ineffective in reducing out-of-pocket expenditure on health,” she alleged. Abhay Shukla from Maharashtra’s Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) said the country has a public system that has been weakened over the last 60 years by the government’s privatisation-friendly policies and an unregulated private sector. “We need to have a paradigm shift in how we understand the existing situation by building a people-organised struggle to reclaim public health systems through community accountability and control,” he said.

Blanket opposition

Agreeing that strengthening public services was non-negotiable, the participants resolved to oppose privatisation of public health systems in all forms.

Panelists at the convention included H.V. Vasu from Karnataka Jana Shakti, Mandya; Anasuyamma from the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS); Y.J. Rejendra from PUCL, Karnataka; and Lakshmi from Janwadi Mahila Sanghatane. The session was moderated by E. Premdas from the JAAK.

Representatives of various organisations from across the State, pourakarmikas’ union, sexual minority communities, people living with disabilities, people with mental health issues narrated the challenges faced by them in accessing healthcare.