Jaipur: Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), Rajasthan has expressed its disappointment at the health agenda of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) outlined in its just released manifesto for Rajasthan Legislative Assembly Elections, 2018.
On Tuesday, the manifesto was released in the presence of Union Ministers Arun Jaitley and Prakash Javadekar, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and several state leaders.
But after going through the manifesto, JSA maintained that the health section of the manifesto is more like a token consideration, which has been mentioned towards the end of the document. The also felt that the present manifesto was more like a rehash of its previous agenda.
Their statement stated, “The party has conveniently avoided making any promise on increasing the state health budget, which means that the state would continue to remain deprived of the necessary funds to cater to the health needs of its 7 crore population.”
And it regretfully added, “Raje government which right now spends just about 1% of its state GDP on health which is awfully low and there has constantly been a demand to raise it to at least 3%.”
The NGO, which has done significant work in health sector, feels that the government is on joining hands with private healthcare service provider. The statement said, “Major emphasis laid on ‘Universal Health Coverage’ by implementing insurance based model, which implies that the government is keen on expanding its flagship scheme, Bhamashah Swasthya Bima Yojana (BSBY) which is now a part of Ayushman Bharat. This alternately entails that the government would continue to join forces with private health care sector and that a huge amount of public money would be diverted to private entities at the cost of compromising with the much required expansion of public health care services.”
The new aspect which has been highlighted in the manifesto with regard to the future health plan of the party is – promoting the pharma sector.
“There’s also much stress on promoting pharma sector in the state through subsidies and incentives to attract pharma companies to invest and research in the state, which predominantly sounds like an investment and trade promotion agenda than a health agenda,” it noted.
“But, the manifesto talks of lending a major boost to pharmaceutical sector and developing laboratories for testing of medical devices, there is not even a slight mention of making free medicines and diagnostics available and accessible for free, given that medicines and surgicals constitute a major part of out of pocket expenditure on treatment that people are forced to bear,” claimed JSA.
It concludes, “The manifesto on health is thus a major disappointment in many ways. It turns a complete blind eye towards major areas of health which need greater attention such as reducing maternal mortality, infant mortality, countering malnutrition, anemia and diseases such as malaria, dengue and zika, which require more of preventive and primary health care focus than anything else. The constant emphasis on health insurance scheme, which has a secondary and tertiary care focus, is barely going to help deal with the aforementioned health problems.”
“With just no intention of increasing the health budget, all the promises so made sound absolutely hollow and pointless. The party should have rather spelled out how it’s going to ensure right to health for all and what mechanisms will be adopted to expand public healthcare services across the state.”
“The JSA Rajasthan fears that the health agenda of the BJP has very little to offer to the poor and the marginalised, and is more inclined towards profiting the corporate and private healthcare sector.”