Make Healthcare a Fundamental Right: Dr. Kafeel Khan

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Dr. Kafeel Khan Mission Smile Foundation has launched a campaign #HealthForAll recently at the Press Club of India, New Delhi.

There is only one primary healthcare centre (often manned by one doctor) for more than 51,000 people in the country

Mohd Aasif | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – Suspended Uttar Pradesh paediatrician Dr. Kafeel Khan has launched a campaign #HealthForAll under Dr. Kafeel Khan Mission Smile Foundation while demanding that the ‘right to healthcare’ be made a justifiable right through the enactment of an appropriate legislation.

Quoting newly-elected American President Joe Biden, Dr. Khan, a former lecturer at the BRD Medical College in Gorakhpur, said at the Press Club of India, New Delhi, “Health is not a privilege but a right”.

Shreya Singh, a representative of the Medical Service Centre, a non-profit medical organisation, seconded him. “It is not up to the government to choose whom to give healthcare and whom not on the basis of the economical condition of the patient”, she added.

Talking about the healthcare system of the country Dr. Khan, who is also a philanthropist and public speaker, said, “The corona pandemic has affected India’s public health system which was already overstretched, overburdened on the verge of collapse. The primary healthcare system is in a shambles.”

There is only one primary healthcare centre (often manned by one doctor) for more than 51,000 people in the country. Some 28,000 people die due to non-Covid diseases every day. Around 4.5 lakh people died due to tuberculosis in India in 2019, according to data. About 50% of children are malnourished and one in two women of reproductive age is anaemic. India is also the diabetes capital of the world, said Dr. Khan citing data from various sources.

In India, most of the Hindus worship goddesses but, sadly, the healthcare awareness among females is worse than that among males. India ranks 150th in female health and survival among 153 countries, according to the Gender Gap Index.

Dr. Khan, who has been conducting free medical camps for the needy and unprivileged people of the country, said, “This is just the tip of the iceberg what with millions of cases going unregistered as diagnosis in most of the cases is not done due to lack of facilities.”

Healthcare is one of the basic necessities of an individual. However, the governments in India of the past and the present seem to be not so enthusiastic about the facility. Public spending stagnated to 1.2% of total GDP. India ranks 170th out of 180 countries in domestic general government health expenditure as a percentage of GDP.

Poor government healthcare system is not the only reason for the untimely death and sufferings of the people in India but it also widens the rich-poor gap. About 58% hospitals and 81% doctors of the country belong to the private sector and 40% of people who are hospitalised are pushed either into lifelong debts or below poverty.

Dr. Parul Saxena said that ‘health for all’ was a dream in India. “Government thinks it’s like a commodity and women are less privileged in the matter of healthcare”, she added.

The coronavirus pandemic has wrung the last drop out of the entire healthcare system of India. Pointing towards a new challenge, Dr. Khan said, “As India’s covid-19 lockdown ends, a mental health crisis is looming”.

He was suspended in August 2017 following the death of some 60 children in the BRD Medical College due to disruption in oxygen supply.

The campaign #HealthForAll was first launched in 2018 which was hurdled by the arrest of Dr. Khan second time on the pretext of a hate speech at a gathering in the Aligarh Muslim University against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act-2019.

Even after bearing the suspension for more than 1,200 days on false charges, facing inquiries nine times and being jailed twice, Dr. Khan finds his happiness in the service of mankind irrespective of religion, caste, creed and region.

“I feel happiness most when I get success in saving the lives of the children. I am not a murderer or a monster as the media tried to prove through its trials.”

The Dr. Kafeel Khan Mission Smile Foundation aims at eradicating the disparities in the healthcare system on the basis of financial backgrounds. Dr. Khan finds it a distant dream. “People of this country help voluntarily when they find something good happening. I have witnessed it during free medical camps”, he added.

The Foundation has also opposed the formation of the National Medical Council (NMC) that became an Act and replaced the Medical Council of India (MCI) this year despite several protests by doctors, nurses and paramedics. National President of Progressive Medicos and Scientists Forum (PMSF) Dr. Harijit Singh Bhatti said, “The Bill has enabled private colleges to auction 50 per cent of medical seats. Everything deemed as corrupt practice during MCI, is now legal under NMC”.

Willing to work for the people of the country struggling during the pandemic, Dr. Khan wants to be reinstated to his post at the BRD Medical College. He has written more than 25 letters to the UP CM Yogi Adityanath and state medical education minister Suresh Khanna.

On the one hand, the government calls doctors and paramedics ‘corona warriors’ but, on the other hand, a humanist and philanthropist doctor is facing inquiries and suspension for performing his duty in the middle of the management crisis.

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