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Times of India
07 November 2011
Pune India

The state government’s decision to develop all radiological services on a public–private partnership (PPP) basis has attracted the wrath of health activists in Pune. They have termed the move as “shocking, retrogressive and unnecessary”.

“Additional chief secretary Jayant Kumar Banthia has justified this decision on the grounds that government hospitals have been unable to run these departments due to lack of competent manpower. Any such deficiency has to be remedied through appropriate steps and policy decision. Privatisation is not the answer to current deficiencies in public health facilities (PHFs),” said health activist Anant Phadke of the Jan Arogya Abhiyaan.

Once the reason cited by the government is accepted, there will be further progressive privatisation of PHFs, which would add to the misery of the common people, especially those from the economically weaker section, he added.

“Continued provision of X–ray and CT scan facilities at the district hospital level and above should not be a problem, as radiologists and other technical manpower are available in urban areas. If no radiologist is available to work full time in district hospitals and other PHFs, a few radiologists can be hired on a part–time basis,” Phadke.

Sharing the view, health activist Suhas Kolhekar said, “Failure of the government to in–source expert doctors for PHFs is unacceptable and disastrous for ordinary people. The general experience has been that privatisation of healthcare services increases denial of healthcare services to the poor. Even though they are supposed to get free services from these privatised facilities, the poor are excluded under one pretext or other.”

It may be noted that the High Level Expert Group appointed by the Planning Commission has submitted a plan to make available quality healthcare services free of charge to all citizens by 2020. The group has recommended considerable strengthening and improvement of PHFs as one of the key policies to be followed, Kolhekar added.

“Unregulated, unbridled growth of the private healthcare sector during the last twenty years has created this paucity of suitable medical experts in PHFs. It is necessary to take steps to regulate the proliferation and profiteering by the private health sector. So long as doctors in the private sector are able to earn huge amounts of money for the same work, ensuring availability of expert doctors in PHFs would continue to be a daunting task,” said health activists Kajal Jain and Sripad Kondhe.

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