Implementing Patients’ Rights Charter: Step towards Accessible Health

Implementing Patients’ Rights Charter: Step towards Accessible Health

  • Health
  • by Akshay Atmaram Tarfe & Binod Sinha
  • 12 Jan, 2021

In August 2018, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) released India’s first Patients’ Rights Charter (PRC) with the recommendations from National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Health being the state subject, the MoHFW urged state governments to adopt the PRC through a letter in June 2019. Even after two years, PRC is yet to be adopted by state and union territories in India. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the issue of patients’ rights at the forefront with hospitals openly violating patients’ rights and making healthcare even more inaccessible to the people.

Oxfam India has been constantly advocating for the implementation of the PRC throughout the pandemic. In September 2020, Oxfam made submission under #RightsOverProfits campaign to National Human Rights Commissions (NHRC)’s committee on COVID-19 and pushed for implementation of PRC for better healthcare. Oxfam’s recommendation to implement PRC in states and Union Territories (UTs) was accepted by NHRC committee and it incorporated in the final NHRC advisory on COVID-19 and human rights.

While the incorporation of PRC implementation in NHRC advisory was major win for the campaign, it was important to sensitize communities about their rights as patients and urge state governments to implement PRC. Oxfam India’s #RightsOverProfits campaign organised multiple activities in December 2020 across Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha to achieve this objective.

In Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, several sensitisation sessions were held around PRC with diverse stakeholders. Between 20 December 2020 and 5 January, 2021, Oxfam India in collaboration with Health Watch Forum organised awareness campaign on PRC under ‘Uttar Pradesh Swasthaya Abhiyan’ in Uttar Pradesh. We reached out to more than 3500 people across seven districts of the state through awareness campaign. Under the campaign, signature campaign, community meetings, cultural programs etc were organized on health issues especially patients charter.

In all districts, letters were submitted to District Magistrates (DMs) for its ratification in the district and placing patient’s charter in all hospitals of the district. The campaign, therefore, did not just mobilise communities to demand PRC but also received endorsements from district administration. In one instance, Uttar Pradesh’s Ambedkarnagar district, District Magistrate (DM) Shri Rakesh Kumar and Chief Development Officer Shri Ghanshyam Meena supported the PRC campaign. DM Shri Rakesh Kumar also issued written orders to Chief Medical Officer of the district to display PRC in the hospitals.

In another instance in Shrawasti, the DM and SDM, along with the Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) B C Dubey and Principal of Alchendra Inter College- Bhinga Professor Jyoti Prakash Pandey  joined signature campaign and supported patients’ charter.

Similar mobilisations were conducted in UPs Balrampur, Chandauli, Shrawasti, Faizabad, Azamgarh and Pratapgarh for creating greater awareness on Patients’ Rights Charter among communities, media, and district administration. In Odisha, PRC awareness drives were held among communities in Bhubaneswar and Mayurbhanj district.

In Delhi and UP, street plays were organised to make communities aware about PRC and the highlight the need for state governments to implement it in spirit. Oxfam collaborated with National Youth Equity Forum (NYEF) to conduct streets plays across Delhi. Communities not only appreciated the importance of the PRC but also shared their experiences of patients’ rights violation with the team.

To gather national picture on patients’ rights and its violations, Oxfam India has also started conducting a survey across India. If you would like to be part of the survey, please use this link.

https://forms.gle/DxyhH8cv7DQpmBYG7

You can read the patients’ rights charter in Odiya, Hindi and English here.

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