Karnataka: Activists find fault with medical Act draft

Bengaluru: Various civil rights activists have raised objection to some of the new draft rules to the Karnataka Private Medical establishments Act 2018, which they allege would provide corporates and private health establishments an upper hand. The State Government wants to amend the KPME Act 2007, in order to protect the interests of patients and well being of citizens. Several organizations, including Karnataka Janaarogya Chaluvali, Alternative Law Forum, FEDINA, Lancha Mukta Karnataka Nirmana Vedike and others have written to the State Government's Health and Family Welfare calling for redrafting and incorporation of crucial changes to prevent conflict of interest and misuse of the Act.

“It has ‘invisibilized’ citizens or patients’ interests, while leaning towards large private or corporate hospitals and other such entities. The rules blatantly allow for inclusion of pro-corporate entities into various expert committees, which will skew both standards and costs in favor of large corporate hospitals,” said Vinay Sreenivasa of Alternative Law Forum. The Act was introduced to ensure transparency and accountability of Private Medical establishments, protection of patients’ rights and mechanisms to ensure enforcements of the same. But with the new draft rules of the Karnataka Private Medical establishments Act 2018, it looks like these objectives have been taken away, the letter stated. Among other recommendations, the letter suggested that members of the Registration and Grievance Redressal Authority should have a balance of medical as well as non-medical members to have both point of views.

Vinay said that the inclusion of representatives of medical professional bodies, private medical establishments in the inspection committee violates the principles of natural justice. “The new rules do not clarify how each of the right in the Patient Rights Charter is to be interpreted, and the procedure to be followed for filing complaints, leaving it open to confusion,” he added.

Dr Sylvia Karpagam, a public health doctor, said, “There are a lot of issues with the Public Sector establishments already and now the government is trying to bring in collaboration with the private sector.” She also said that there was no necessity to bring in changes to this amendment. “Why are they bringing more players, instead of regulating them,” Dr Sylvia questioned.

The letter that was submitted on Friday hopes the state government will protect the citizens’ interests by incorporating their suggestions.

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