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Pocketing Profits: Private Hospitals Need Price Caps For Accessible Healthcare

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.
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Corona tests in Delhi have been capped at ₹6500, but how many can afford it?

Ongoing Corona crisis has somewhat given an additional leverage to the private hospitals in tricking and luring us, the people. Although the Delhi Government has increased the Corona beds in the private hospitals, apart from the availability of ventilators and oxygen support, but the situation on ground is altogether contrary to what the agencies would want us to believe.

Checking the supplies of the essential medical facilities is a crucial component, given the alarming situation and circumstances in which we find ourselves in. Who will shoulder the burden for the hefty and exorbitant sums being charged by scores of private hospitals indulging in trading benefits from the present crisis situation? The heap will fall on the ordinary people who fear denial of treatment and are coerced into giving what they wouldn’t have otherwise.

I wonder as to why our healthcare system and infrastructure believes in minting money at the cost of saving and securing the lives of the ordinary people? Who has given them this right to fiddle with the belief and value system of the people, and for what all practices and purpose? This could be better illustrated from Vineet Wadhwa’s harrowing experience in finding treatment for his 58-year-old uncle. The experience led him to file a PIL in the Delhi High Court calling for the capping of rates at private hospitals, among from other interventions.

Mr Wadhwa’s uncle tested positive for Corona on June 8, and they tried admitting him at Akash Healthcare in Dwarka but were deterred by the charges. Patients were being charged around ₹40,000 per day or encouraged to take up a “10-day package”. These ranged from “economy” costing ₹3 lakh , “sharing” costing ₹3.5 lakh to a “deluxe” package of ₹4 lakh.

Similarly on May 14, Tushar Jindal, 40, a kidney patient, tested positive for novel coronavirus, and the family made calls to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. The private hospital allegedly asked for an advance deposit of ₹5 lakh for admission. As the amount was too high for the family, following advice from his nephrologist, they admitted him at Max Hospital in Saket, where an advance of ₹2.5 Lakh had to be paid.

Corona tests in Delhi have been capped at ₹6500, but how many can afford it? Who should we hold answerable for our woes and plights, if not the ones in authority and power. The othering and stigma associated with Corona has led to serious and severe psychological and physiological impairments, leading to our reluctance in disclosing the disease. Thus, it is all the more imperative to allow people in and around to be strong, and support them instead of being paranoid.

I believe that any pandemic has the ability to wreak havoc on the healthcare system, if it is not structured to meet the requirements of the individual. India has seen lesser investments in scientific inventions and innovations, which would have bettered our prospects in dealing with such handicaps. This pandemic has already exposed the fault lines which were the defining feature of our healthcare management system.

Delhi, being the capital, hogged the limelight for mohalla clinic in every constituent of the city wherein, at macro level, accessible and efficient health facilities were provided to the poor and rich alike. Health services in the Delhi government hospitals were uplifted and ameliorated with a renewed synergy. However, this focus only proved to be short-lived.

In my viewpoint, the State Government should take a lesson or two from Telangana and Maharashtra government by fixing a price cap on the treatment in private hospitals. As per the latest government notification, BMC has taken over 80% beds in all private hospitals as they won’t be allowed to charge beyond a certain price cap. Similarly, Telangana Government has capped prices for COVID tests and treatment as these charges will be separate from the cost of antiviral drugs that the private hospital will administer to the coronavirus patients.

Delhi can take the lead when both the governments, Central and State, shunning all their difference of opinions, can come forward in mitigating the after-effects of this crisis by providing us, the people, with premium healthcare facilities. An ordinary individual does look upto the government when confronting such a situation, and it is a moral duty of the government to rescue and help its citizens.

I do believe both the governments have the potential and capacity. By increasing testing and capping the rates of testing and treatment, we surely will be able to reduce the caseloads, along with casualities. Ensuring cooperation, collaboration and coordination between different organs and agencies will become easier by enhancing efficiency and reliance.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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