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Public Health, Right to Health and Health Care

Sama’s engagement with the health sector is an extension of its pro-active involvement with issues of public health. The dismal state of public health in the country along with the rapid proliferation of the unregulated private sector has been a continuing concern. While the expansion of the private sector is primarily responsible for high and increasing inequity in access to health care, its internal functioning is also riddled with problems. The unethical practices in the private sector have raised concerns about the standards of care and its promotion as a better alternative for provision of health care. The private sector is not homogeneous as it involves wide range of service providers. The current context also necessitates the unpacking of many different layers that the private sector comprises of. Sama has consistently highlighted these issues, particularly the non-regulation of the private system, through engagement at various levels. The regulation of the private sector has been an integral part of the right to health care campaign. Sama’s research on free treatment in charitable hospitals raises significant policy level concerns. The findings of this study were disseminated through campaigns, policy and media advocacy to raise awareness on issues and concerns emerging from the study.

Sama co-organized national consultations to review and provide information on the policies of National Urban Health Mission (NUHM) as well as the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The National Consultation on ‘Reviewing the NRHM: Through a Gender and Rights Lens’ was organized based on the need for a wider, systematic and collective process to take stock of the health system. The consultation was an opportunity to plan for the future, and visualise a new health architecture that is gender sensitive, rights based and appropriate to the needs of the poor and marginalized. A workshop on Urban Health: Context Challenges and Way Forward was organised by Sama, SAHAJ, Gujarat and JSA to identify, visualise and highlight the health issues in urban areas including the determinants of health as well as access to health care, particularly of vulnerable groups. The workshop also sought to analyse policy documents including JNNURM and NUHM and deliberate a possible way forward.