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As you know, a majority of patients access care from Private nursing homes and hospitals where they often do not receive required information, their human dignity may not be observed, and serious violations of patient's human rights may occur. As of now in India, patients accessing private health care facilities have neither redressal mechanisms nor legal protection regarding their rights.

In Maharashtra, hospitals are legally required to register with the local governing authority under the Bombay Nursing Home Registration Act (BNHRA) which has been a very minimal kind of legislation focused on registration. Health activists in the state have long been advocating for changes in the Act so that it may ensure basic standards and patients rights. With this context, the Maharashtra state legislative assembly amended the act in December 2005. This amendment, though inadequate, paved the way for minimum standards to be followed by nursing homes / hospitals with the objective of ensuring minimum quality health care. Following this, in 2006 a participatory process took place involving representatives of the private medical profession, government, and consumer and health rights groups to draft the rules for this amended act. These draft rules which were evolved by consensus, including a Charter of Patients' Rights, were approved by then Directorate of Health Services, and have been put up on the official website (http://www.maha-arogya.gov.in/) since July 2006.

However despite ongoing demands by Jan Arogya Abhiyan (JSA Maharashtra), appeal by a number of organisations and individuals from across Maharashtra, and regular follow up with Health officials and the Health Minister, these rules are waiting final approval by Maharashtra State Health Minister since the last three years! And now the Maharashtra Health department is trying to wash out Patients Rights by framing another set of rules which are eyewash, and completely dilute the provisions in the 2006 draft rules. The dominant lobby of private doctors seems to be behind this. It may be kept in mind that the same Maharashtra government has recently brought in an ordinance to protect private doctors from attacks, within a few months of this being demanded by the doctors lobby. On one hand the government is overactive to protect private doctors, but on the other hand, it is seems paralysed when it comes to protecting patient’s rights!

Hence to demand long overdue legal protection of patients’ rights in Maharashtra (which could become a precedent for other states in India) an online petition has been launched at:
http://aidindia.org/main/component/option,com_facileforms/Itemid,409/

This petition is hosted by AID (Association for India’s Development) network and is organised in such a way that for each of the signatures collected, faxes would automatically be sent to the Health minister. Once we have several hundred signatures we would initiate the process for meeting the Health minister to discuss this issue with him.

If you agree with the need to legally and effectively protect patients’ rights, do sign and also circulate this petition to various other networks, as widely as possible.

Contacts
Abhay and Anant
Jan Arogya Abhiyan
(JSA Maharashtra)

Address
Plot No. 140, Flat No.3 & 4, Aman E Terrace,
Dahanukar Colony,
Kothrud Pune – 411 029
Tel: +91 20 25451413/25452325
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.