A state-level convention to frame a People’s Health Charter was organised in Ranchi on August 27 under the banner of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), Jharkhand. The convention unanimously adopted a 33-point People’s Health Charter and resolved to successfully pursue it and broaden the JSA in Jharkhand to strengthen the people’s health movement.
The convention, inaugurated by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat, was attended by 197 delegates, including 49 women, from 11 districts of Jharkhand. The delegates represented 35 organisations of women, students, youths, peasantry, workers, employees, pensioners, scientists, economists, educationists, lawyers, engineers, doctors, cultural activists, writers, social activists, tribals and dalits.
Addressing the convention, Karat said Jharkhand was 66 per cent deficient in health infrastructure and 85 per cent deficient in human resources, but the state was moving directionless without any health policy. She said that the Jharkhand government was treating healthcare as an industry to the advantage of corporates. While private hospitals are being given land at a negligible cost, the poor tribal population whose land is being grabbed are being denied of health services. The Centre and the state government are promoting mythology, and scientific methods are discouraged. This is the breeding ground for superstition-based practices such as ‘Ojha/Guni and witchcraft. It must be rejected.
Karat shared her experience of working in the parliamentary standing committee on health and how pharmaceutical companies try to influence healthcare policy in their favour. She appreciated the endeavour of the organisers to take up the cause of ailing people of an ailing state where bare minimum health facilities are not available to a common man.
The convention also celebrated the victory of an intervention petition on a PIL in the high court preventing privatisation of Ranchi Sadar Hospital. As a result, the Rs 135-crore project started after nine years of completion as a 200-bed super speciality hospital in August this year. The convention greeted the delegation of the All India Lawyers Union for fighting the case without charging any fee.
The convention had five sessions on policy related demands, health services and infrastructure, medicine related issues, social health related issues, and legal consolidation. Suggestions forwarded by economist Jean Dreze and Vinoba Bhave University vice-chancellor Ramesh Sharan in respect to formation of a separate Directorate of Public Health (in the line of Tamil Nadu), elimination of private players from the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna, and public audit of accounts of primary health centres were also discussed and accepted by the convention.
The successful convention has instilled in the people confidence to carry forward a strong healthcare movement in Jharkhand.