ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Right Act for Health

Rajasthan’s pioneering Right to Health Act emerged through contestation and negotiation with private medical associations. Certain provisions require further clarity and incorporation of civil society suggestions; this forward-looking legislation must be operationalised keeping in view the wider political economy of healthcare.

The author gratefully acknowledges the exchanges in the Jan Swasthya Abhiyan network which have informed this article.

On 21 March 2023, Rajasthan government became the first state in India to adopt a legislation with the explicit intent of ensuring the Right to Health (RTH) for residents of the state.1 Despite controversy and delays during the formulation of the act, along with several areas that require further clarity, improved framing, and supportive measures, this was undoubtedly a step forward in the history of public health legislation in India. In a situation when national policy is skewed towards privatisation in the healthcare sector (Sarwal et al 2021), and public health systems in most states suffer from inadequate resources, this commitment by a state government to ensure rights-based access to public services is indeed welcome. The recent experience of the COVID-19 pandemic where major inadequacies of public health systems in most Indian states were exposed, merited such a proactive initiative on guaranteeing access to public health services. However, we need to examine provisions of the act to grasp its scope and implications, while understanding the reasons for resistance from private medical associations. It is also pertinent to note various suggestions on the act provided by civil society networks, while locating this historic legislation in the context of the wider political economy of healthcare.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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