Initiating a discussion in the Rajya Sabha on the functioning of the Ministry of Heath and Family Welfare, Communist Party of India (Marxist) MP Brinda Karat said, on Tuesday, said: "Private sector hospitals are exploiting vulnerable sections of society as the government has failed to provide good health services. Moreover, the government has failed to formulate any regulatory mechanism or fix any responsibility on erring hospitals and doctors. Strict monitoring of private health sector is required to safeguard interests of poor people."
(The Rajya Sabha is the upper house of the Indian parliament.)
Ms. Karat pointed to the declining budgetary allocations for the health sector and wanted the government to implement a time-bound programme for creation of world-class health infrastructure.
She demanded more autonomy for AIIMS-like institutions and suggested the setting up of more centres of excellence like the AIIMS, a prestigious institution based in the national capital of New Delhi.
She asked the government to strengthen the departments of traditional systems of medicines and stop treating patients as guinea pigs for clinical trials.
Talking about family planning, the fiery Left MP alleged that governments were adopting coercive population control measures, which were undemocratic and cruel. She demanded effective steps to check sex determination test.
She also criticised the functioning of the Drug Control Authority and dubbed the anti-pregnancy drug 'i-pill' as dubious and dangerous. She also asked the government to give at least minimum wages to rural health workers.
She demanded the immediate reopening of three government-owned vaccine production units and more funds for them so that they met the quality standards. "I also demand an inquiry into why they were closed down, who was responsible for the closure and who is accountable for lakhs of our children being deprived of immunisation," she said.
She also felt there was a need to streamline the organ donation mechanism and wanted all MPs pledge to donate their organs and build it into a national movement so that the general public could be made aware about the need for donating organs.
Syed A. Pasha of the CPI demanded the setting up of a commission to look into the functioning of corporate hospitals, "which were fleecing patients."
Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley asked the government to ensure that prices of life-saving drugs, which increased manifold in the last five years due to product patent does, did not go beyond the reach of the poor people.
Pointing out that private healthcare had become costly, he asked the government to relax the norms for setting up medical colleges, particularly for the government sector. He demanded immediate restoration of autonomy to institutions such as the AIIMS.
The former Union Health Minister and BJP member, C.P. Thakur, said every State should have one viral laboratory in the wake of the H1N1 influenza cases.