For the past five days most of us were worried sick wondering what if we should fall sick. The reason — there were no doctors to treat us. The doctors were on the streets instead of in hospitals saving lives. They were busy trying to save themselves from harsh amendments to the Act that governs them.
Karnataka had an Act called Karnataka Private Nursing Home Act of 1976. In 2007, it was replaced by Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (KPME) Act to monitor private medical establishments. Now, Health Minister K.R. Ramesh Kumar wants to amend this Bill and have it passed when the law-makers meet in the ongoing session at Belagavi.
Chief Minister Siddharamaiah said, “Government wants to amend the Act of 2007 to provide for a grievance redressal mechanism, price control and a patient’s charter. The amendments are in public interest.” Activists also say these amendments are needed.
Now we wonder why the same activists, the same government, who are making amendments to the present KPME Act based on the recommendations of Justice Vikramjit Sen don’t want to accept an important recommendation in the same report that says “Government healthcare establishments too must come under this Act.”
In fact, Justice Vikramjit Sen, in a press conference said, “We would like to make Government Hospitals too accountable. Therefore, by deleting the word private we would be able to achieve this.” The Government took the report, and conveniently let the “private” remain.
The government wants private establishments to be held accountable, but they don’t allow public institutions to be subjected to the same level of scrutiny. Also, why are the activists not going after the government hospitals for bad service? The very reason that private hospitals exist and thrive is because government hospitals are not effective.
Simply put, when it comes to healthcare the government, instead of pulling its socks up, wants to pull the private hospitals’ pants down.
Just the fact that the government has contracted the Public Works Department (PWD) to build the new wing of K.R. Hospital at the cost of Rs. 173 crore is shocking. A department that cannot even build a good road has been given the responsibility to build a hospital that caters to over a million people! What expertise does the PWD have in building modern hospitals? None at all.
Now, be it housing, healthcare or education, most Indians have accepted that our government services are undependable and have found ways of arranging a backup. And who runs these backups…politicians.
When it comes to education, post-independence most people studied in government schools and colleges. They were good educational institutions. Today these colleges are so bad one has to choose a private option. And politicians run most of these private institutions.
When it comes to providing housing, it is shameful that private land developers have allotted more sites in the past 10 years than the government has in the last 30 years! And who are these private developers — mostly politicians again.
All these businesses have sprouted and are thriving largely due to the government’s apathy towards government institutions. At the risk of being branded a conspiracy theorist, one has to ask — are politicians deliberately neglecting government services and institutions so that they can then provide these services privately and profit from it?
The only way to improve government services is by passing a law that mandates that government employees of all ranks and law-makers to use only government services and institutions — schools, hospitals and public transport. Perhaps then the government will appreciate what private enterprise has done for this country.
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