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Times of India
17 December 2008
Pune, India

The Jan Aarogya Abhiyan (JAA), comprising various non–governmental organisations, has demanded immediate approval of rules that lay down minimum standards for hospitals and protect the human rights of patients in private hospitals, which have been awaiting government approval for the last two–and–a–half years.

Working towards this, the JAA has organised a signature campaign, a patients’ rights poster exhibition and procession at 4 pm on December 17 at the Pune Municipal Corporation bus stop to appeal to the state health minister to expedite the procedure. A statement released by JAA here on Tuesday demanded immediate approval by new health minister Rajendra Shingane.

JAA is a state–level coalition of organisations committed to the goal of ‘Health for all’ as part of the people’s health movement (PHM) in India. It has been advocating the preparation of rules under the Bombay Nursing Home Registration Act (BNHRA) (amended 2005). The draft rules were prepared in 2006 by city–based Cehat organisation with the help of JAA and inputs from representatives of doctors’ organisations like the Association of Medical Consultants (AMC, Mumbai), Indian Medical Association (IMA) etc.

These draft regulations, which lay down the minimum standards for hospitals, including observance of certain patients’ rights, were approved by the health department and were posted on their website in July’06 for suggestions from the public, said the statement. It was hoped that these would be finally acknowledged by the health minister within a couple of months. But the then health minister Vimal Mundada did not put forth his approval, despite reminders by the JAA, the statement said.

As a result, the JAA organised a patients’ rights conventions in Dahanu, Pune and Kolhapur, where representatives of the IMA also expressed their support.

The statement said that it suspected that some undue influence was at work, and hence the opacity and lack of response on the issue. Now, with the appointment of a new health minister, it is being expected that, unlike his predecessor, Shingane will show sensitivity towards this matter of urgent public importance.

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