"It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold or silver
."~ Mahatma Gandhi
Right to healthcare is not recognised expressly under the Constitution of India
however Right to Health is a part of Right to Life under Article-21. The present
pandemic situation is like "World War Against Covid-19
". The current Covid-19
situation is the best example of Bentham's Theory of Utilitarianism which talks
about greater good for greater people. Similarly also the Government is also
trying to calm down drug prices, covid kit price and regulate medical service.
Meaning & International Norms:
Right to Healthcare implies a person's right to safeguard his health from any
hazardous state action and state's obligation to provide sponsored health care
at an affordable price.
Right to Healthcare includes:
- Right to appropriate medical care and humane treatment
- Right to choose healthcare provider and facility
- Right to Medical Records etc.
The World Health Organisation is the nodal UN Organ to regulate and safeguard
the right to health.
Right to Health provided under
Evolution of Right to Health in India:
- Article-25 of UDHR
- Article-12 of ICESCR
- Convention on Rights of Persons with disabilities and its optional
As a Justiciable Fundamental Right:
The Constitution does not provide the right to health as a fundamental right
expressly. It is a product of judicial creativity through the Doctrine of
Implied Fundamental Rights in the case of State of Punjab v. M.S. Chawala
, Supreme Court held that right to healthcare and clinical consideration is an
Integral part of right to life under Article-21.
As Non-Justiciable Directive Principles:
National Digital Health Policy 2017
- Article-39(e) State to secure health and strength of workers men and women
- Article-41 Public ordinance for old age, sickness and disable person
- Article-42 Maternity Relief
- Article-47 State to raise level of minimum standard of living improve public
AYUSHMAN Scheme Bharat Yojana provides health insurance to the poor.
The Right of Persons with Disabilities Act 2016 & Senior Citizen Act 2007
directs for equal facilitation of healthcare to the disabled and senior
The 74th Independence Day Prime Minister announced the National Digital Health
Co-relatives and Derivatives of Right to Healthcare
Right to Health & Right to Privacy
- State of Punjab v. Ram Lubhaya Bagga (1998)
The Supreme Court established the interrelation between Article 21, 41 & 47 in
order to better safeguard the right to healthcare state responsibilities.
- Bandhua Mukti Morcha v. Union of India (1997)
The Supreme Court linked Article 21 and right to health of the labourers and
provided them the right to healthy life.
Right to Health & Right to Environment
- Right to Privacy and Confidentiality must be ensured while exercising
the right to health.
- Indian Medical Council Regulations, 2002 provides for confidentiality of
the patient's information.
- In Mr.X v. Hospital (1998) Case Supreme Court held that in a conflict between
right to privacy and right to be informed of dangerous diseases, the latter
Right to Environment ( Article 21 & 48A ) is a sine qua non for right to health
and they co exist together. Without a clean environment, the right to health is
Right to Health & Privatisation
Privatisation of the health sector and lessor control of State over
their action may lead to arbitrary pricing of health care.
Right to Health & Medical Negligence
Medical Negligence is a dangerous tort (punishable under Section-304A
IPC) that needs to be addressed to ensure the right to health care. Paschim
Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity v. State of West Bengal (1996).
Prisoners Right to Health
The same right to health is extended to prisoners as observed in
Charles Sobhraj v. Superintendent Tihar Jail (1978)
- In Re (Suo Moto) v. UOI (2021)
The right to health can be secured to the citizens only if the State provides
adequate measures for their treatment, healthcare and take their care by
protecting them from calamities like CoronaVirus.
- The Allahabad High Court while hearing the suo motu petition In-Re Inhumane
condition at quarantine centers and for providing better treatment of Corona
positive vide its order dated 4th May 2021 in a very ignominy and infuriated
manner observed that " non supplying oh Oxygen to the hospital is a criminal act
and not less than a genocide by those who have been entrusted the task to ensure
continuous procurement and supply chain of the liquid medical Onygen".
Our erroneous health trajectory and poor health infrastructure have been exposed
by this coronavirus pandemic. India's expenditure on public health is 1.29% of
the GDP (in 2019-20) lower than most other countries. It's time for India to
declare that the right to health is a fundamental right. Strong health laws will
help to build societal resilience to future pandemics and public health
emergencies. Emergency responses can't come at the cost of neglect of human
During this Corona Pandemic, various adverse characters of Indian healthcare
system got exposed, henceforth to ensure right to health, following things are
need to be done:
Written by Shashwata Sahu,
- Co-operative federalism
- Creating a nodal health agency
- Making right to health more justiciable
- Enabling preventive care system
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