Diagnostic imaging of the Rajasthan Right to Health Act

Source: The post is based on the article “Diagnostic imaging of the Rajasthan Right to Health Act” published in The Hindu on 13th May 2023.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Government Policies & Interventions in Various Sectors

Relevance: concerns associated with Rajasthan’s Right to Health (RTH) Bill

News: The Rajasthan Right to Health (RTH) Bill has been controversial and there have been oppositions to it.

What are some of the flaws in the Rajasthan’s Right to Health (RTH) Bill?

Addition of extra provisions:  The problem with the bill is that additional changes/amendments have been added in the bill other than those recommended by the select committee.

For instance, the term ‘designated health care centres’ was introduced, and a reimbursement clause for unpaid emergency care was added.

These extra additions are praiseworthy but most other changes in the amended Bill were not beneficial in protecting public health interests.

Lack of representation of medical representatives: The bill initially included three representatives, from ayurveda, homoeopathy, and unani, as ex-officio members from the state health authority.

However, the amended bill had provision for only one representative from the alternative medical systems, with medical education representatives filling for the remaining two.

Further, the amended Bill swapped public health experts with Indian Medical Association (IMA) representatives as nominated members. This left state and district health authorities with little or no representation.

Restricting powers of the administrative organs: The grievance redress system proposed in the initial iteration underwent a considerable change in the amended Bill.

For example, the grievance redress system was initially proposed to be handled through web portals, helpline centres, and officers concerned within 24 hours.

However, patient grievances will now be handled by the concerned health-care institution within three days. This may lead to conflict of interests and add more burdens to the hospitals.

Lacks in public health representation: Health care laws should also focus on health promotion, disease prevention, and nutrition. However, the RTH does not aim to serve these purposes.

Repealing the Act: Some of those opposing the bill have called to repeal the law due to the ambiguous definitions of some terms such as the definition of emergency.

However, there are ambiguities even with widely accepted medical definitions. Therefore, it is required that all parties should come together to best elaborate the definitions rather than repealing a Bill.

What are some of the advantages of the bill?

The State government has stated that private multispecialty hospitals with less than 50 beds, and those that have not received government subsidised land/buildings, will be temporarily exempted from the bill.

This provision of the bill was widely accepted by the doctors’ associations.

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What lessons can be learnt from the RTH bill of Rajasthan?

The lessons learnt are – a) laws should be carefully drafted to avoid oppositions, b) the government should not get influenced by organised medical interest alone in preparing any health policy, c) governments and the medical community should also make themselves aware of the broader social dimensions of health and health legislation and d) governments should be aware that adopting such kind of legislation without being financially ready might backfire.

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