Members in Rajya Sabha today made a strong case for making healthcare affordable and improving facilities, saying it had become a business and virtually out of reach for the poor.
Participating in a discussion on the working of Health and Family Welfare Ministry, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad asked the government to focus on providing free facilities to the poor rather than go in for an insurance scheme which will not cover people in remote villages.
Azad, himself a former Health Minister, said everyone knows that what is the actual bill of a patient and what it becomes when there is insurance involved.
He said the Health Ministers of UK and the US had approached him to study the Indian system as the insurance scheme that they had was bleeding them.
“If it has not been a success in UK or US, how can it be a success in India? Insurance will not be able to reach the remote villages,” he said, adding that the UPA government had ensured that the poor get free treatment and for this various schemes were launched.
“The government should focus on providing free facilities to the poor rather than insurance,” the senior Congress leader said and asked the government to update the Opposition about various schemes launched during the UPA rule, most which were completed or mid-way.
He also sought information on National Rural Health Mission, various initiatives for the healthcare of mothers and child, creation of new AIIMS and medical colleges.
Members of several parties also sought steps to make the health system more affordable. Ravi Prakash Verma (SP) claimed that a lobby of allopathic medicines was trying to influence public representatives and governments as healthcare and treatment has become “a big business”.
He also said the government’s expenditure on healthcare in percentage terms of GDP was even less than that of many countries including Nepal and Bangladesh.
While the government had set up many missions, they were not leading to desired outcome and favoured a result oriented approach.
Kahkashan Perween (JD-U) expressed concern that there was a shortage of doctors at AIIMS, which she said forced people to go to private hospitals. She sought an increase of seats in medical colleges and deputation of senior doctors in the emergency departments