- Health and law are two sides of the same coin.
- As there are a population explosion and technological advancements in the health care industry that are surging at the same speed, a fine line should be drawn to keep both of them under a suitable box of legalities.
- Whenever there is a probability of crime or something that will be going out of hand, the law comes in play for enforcing guidelines on people involved in the activity.
- This article briefs about the Indian Health laws that have protected the healthcare industry till now and will continue to do so in the future as well.
Health is a fundamental aspect of all living beings. In current times, India is undergoing malnutrition and improper healthcare practices, and also the COVID-19 outbreak. The degradation of health facilities is an important cause of concern. Many times laws are the only thing that binds people to act properly and provide with necessary facilities. In India, many such laws are made to maintain and give the best healthcare-related services. Every disease has a separate law. However, in this article, we will study the fundamental right of an individual: The right to Healthcare.
Many judicial bodies have worked, framed, and constructed these laws for the welfare of the common man. The role of the Supreme Court is important in this functioning of the laws. Every state has its laws that govern health and safety.
INDIAN HEALTH LAWS
Indian constitution has given its citizens a few sets of laws, for the betterment of the society. Right to Health is one of the law which ensures that all the citizens of the country have a right of his well- being.
Lack of awareness and poverty is people’s reality in rural India. Though the government has formed policies, the information about these policies needs to be spread.
In article 21, the Indian constitution guarantees the right to the highest quality of the physical and mental health of its citizens. It gives protection to life and personal liberty to every citizen, the basis of the directive principle of state policy. Human Dignity is the accord of our Indian constitution, so the Indian government is liable to provide its citizens with proper healthcare facilities. If the patient is not treated on time, it is a due violation of the right to health act. Also, some petitions have been filed to make provisions for the treatment of children in the jail, on pollution hazards, drugs, inhuman conditions prevalent in societies, rights for mentally ill patients, cataract surgery camps, and immediate medical help for any patient, also it refrain from passive smoking, also about the rights of HIV patients.
Data in the National Health Profile 2019 suggests a brief data of social and economic status, diseases, health-related finances, and infrastructure gathered shows that 1.17% is spent by the government as compared to lower-income group nations spending of 1.57% on health facilities. Moreover, the Indian expenditure on health is around 1.28% of GDP. The financial budget on health for the year 2019-2020 was less than 63000 Cr, with a maximum share going to National Health Mission and Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana having the facility of cashless hospitalization up to 5 lakhs for unprivileged. India is lagging behind the world in terms of spending in healthcare.
Schemes like Ayushman Bharat Scheme, however, pledges to provide 5 lakh insurance cover to over 500 million Indians. Costly and non-desirable amounts that bring an unnecessary burden on the patient is curbed by this law.
The right to healthcare deals with the basic rights of housing and sanitation is a key factor in maintaining health. A systematic means used to bridge the gap.
Article 39 states, the security, and strength of workers are of prime importance. It includes children’s welfare too, to give them their opportunities and facilities for the development of their health. It entails the dignity, freedom, and also prevents the exploitation, moral abuse, and material impartiality of children. The best ways to safeguard the interests and welfares of workers are provided in Article 39(c) and (f).
As the nation is built by worker class, their wellbeing is of utmost importance.
Article 42 states that the state will emphasize on just and fair conditions of work and maternity relief. In many cases, due importance is given in the justified relief to the person at the workplace. e.g.:- If a person is working in unfavorable conditions, he/ she should be provided with necessary precautions.
Article 47 sets off that the state should have a major concern about the nutritional value, it should improve the nutrition factor and try to raise the living standards with upgrading the health of the public. The care should be taken to prohibit toxic drinks and drugs leading to hazards concerning health. The imposition on certain issues that have a great impact on the health of the society, like liquor businesses legalities, etc. is to be taken under this law. In this law, the health is above everything, i.e. health is supposed to be pivotal
Article 48 covers the protection and improvement of nature the forests, and wildlife of the country. As we know, health is dependent on the environmental factors and it has a major influence over a human being’s health needs, so to protect and secure the health, the environment needs protection from humans itself.
Article 51 enumerates that the duty of every citizen to preserve and improve the natural environment that indirectly affects health.
These are some of the rights that adhere to the health condition of a person. The Indian constitution demonstrates the fundamentality of a person’s rights. But these rights are flexible and are incorporated as per the conditions. The Supreme Court also contributes to the implementation of the law.
(Ref: Dr. Sandip Satbhai, N.B.Thakur College, K. Mathiharan, Advisor, Institute of Legal Medicine)
In the latest case of Coronavirus, there are few acts provided in the Indian Constitution. The Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, which states better prevention of the spread of Dangerous Epidemic Diseases. Whenever the state government feels that the country jeopardized with the epidemic disease it should enforce provisions of law for time being to cure are insufficient, the central government may take measures and prescribe regulations for the inspection of any ship or vessel leaving or arriving at the Airport will be taken. It also penalizes the person who disobeys any of the regulations stated in this act. No person shall be held liable if the act done by that person is under good faith.
Minor but prevalent and important laws are
- The Indian Medical Council Act, 1956
- The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961
- The Vaccination Act
- The Pharmacy Act
- The Dentist Act
- Mental Health Act
World Health Organization provides with a universal set of laws for the world
- Health Equity Law
The achievement of the highest level of health for all people by eliminating health disparities, the differentiation of one’s health over others by social factors: race, sex, gender, disability, age, economic status, and geographic location. It includes data on laws regarding anti-discrimination laws and public health laws. Various factors that play determinants of health are Policies, Housing, Education, Environment and Health.
- Vaccination law
Diseases whose vaccines are available are prevalent at the lowest rate in the society. This law imposes compulsion on vaccine provisions among society. Many diseases that cover in this vaccine-related cures are Hepatitis B, Influenza, Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR), Pertussis, Pneumococcal disease, and Varicella.
- Environmental Health Law
WHO states that the environment around us should be protected. It includes the air, water, food, and other factors that we come in contact with. The chemicals, microbes, physical forces, and radiations have a mark on our lives. Many lead samples of blood have observed in children, the USA has significant large scale animal farming that provides odors in the environment.
Public Health Laws are laws and policies that contain the contiguity of the diseases. They came into existence in the 19th century when the world felt the need for laws that can bring health in order. History shaped ways of creating health laws. They help in equipping health professionals to understand that they have to abide by the laws.
HEALTH-RELATED BILLS PASSED IN FINANCIAL YEAR 2019-2020
Assisted reproductive technology Bill 2020
This bill was passed in the parliament on 19th Feb 2020. It aims at the regulation of IVF (in-vitro fertilization) clinics in the country. Introducing this bill came after the surrogacy bill which tabled in the parliament in July 2019. The passing of this bill opens the door of full-fledged infrastructure availability of laboratory and diagnostic equipment with expert manpower in clinics and banks. India is a larger hub for infertility centers. So the standards have to be set clear as the growing gamete donation, intrauterine insemination, IVF, and surrogacy have enlarged in the numbers in the country.
The bill states that whoever practices wrongdoings like the selection of sex, selling human embryos, or gametes, and running illegal rackets under the pretext of these clinics will be liable and given severe punishments. This will be beneficial in regularizing the ART in the country.
Medical Termination of Pregnancy Amendment Bill 2020
This bill is tabled in the parliament on 2nd March 2020. It amends the existing Medical termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971. It approves of abortion by surgical methods within 12 weeks of pregnancy under the condition that continuation of the pregnancy is of harm for both the child and the mother, or it may cause grave injury to the health of the mother or a potential risk to the unborn that may be physical or psychological. The opinion of two medical practitioners will be standing true.
This act helps in providing the termination of certain pregnancies by registered medical practitioners. The provision of abortion is appropriate under special conditions. The need for safe, affordable, accessible abortion services to women is recognized by law.
Surrogacy Bill 2020
This bill is passed in the LokSabha on 26th Feb 2020. It comes under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare. It defines surrogacy as a practice in which a woman gives birth to a child with the intention of giving it to the intended couple. There are few regulations taken care of in this bill. It suggests that surrogacy should be undertaken by a selfless motive instead of any commercial dealings within the two parties. The expenses related to the medical needs of the would-be mother along with insurance coverage during the time of pregnancy are covered in this bill. However, in the commercial surrogacy, the biological mother gets additional money or monetary benefits other than the medical expenses.
The purpose of this bill is to help couples who have proven infertility issues. The altruistic nature aids the couple to bear a child without any commercial involvement with the mother other than her medical expenses i.e. the child born is not a thing for sale, or prostitution or other forms of exploitation nor any condition or disease specified through regulation.
Apart from this, the intended couple should have proof i.e. a certificate of essentiality or eligibility to opt for this process.
(Ref: PRS INDIA)
These bills are passed in favor of women to protect the rights of women’s dignity and her reproductive rights, addressing changing social contexts and technological advancements. To protect the privacy of parents and the mother, to maintain proper records this is an important step taken by the government of India.