Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Health Act – UPSC GS2

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs has made several recommendations regarding pandemic management.
What the report recommended?
  1. Regulatory oversight
    • A regulatory oversight would compel all the hospitals functioning in the country to abide by the laws.
    • One of the major malpractices in private hospitals is to rebuff insurance claims made by patients. In the initial phases of the pandemic, the private hospitals routinely rejected medical insurance cover causing the patients immense financial strain. This can be explained by high out of the pocket expenditure.
  2. Cashless treatment for COVID-19
    • It recommends allowing cashless treatment for COVID-19 for people who are covered by insurance.
    • This will be a major relief to patients suffering from COVID-19, as these are difficult times with prevalent job losses and unemployment making it difficult to pay in cash.
  3. A separate wing at the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)
    • This separate wing will concentrate and work exclusively in the domain of pandemic handling.
    • This move will provide a ready-made taskforce who specialize in handling any pandemics in future and its spillovers.
  4. Dry rations/allowance
    • This should be directed to children who are deprived of mid-day meals due to pandemic.
    • This recommendation is in line with what the phase-1 data of National Family Health Survey-5 has revealed, with the increase in undernutrition, wasting and stunting, it is important not to allow the pandemic to further aggravate the situation.
  5. Loan assistance
    • The farmers, non-corporate and non-farm small and micro enterprises have been hit hard by the pandemic and the lockdown that ensued, therefore making credit availability easier would help in reviving several of these economic activities.
    • The economic contraction in the first two quarters demands a fiscal package, and the small players in the economy deserve the first priority.
  • Access to quality, affordable healthcare should not be made conditional to the ability to pay, the private hospitals have been guilty of several malpractices which aggravated the pandemic’s impact on patients.
  • The Parliamentary Standing Committee’s call for legislation to oversee the functioning of the private hospitals is a step in the right direction provided that monitoring doesn’t mean micro-managing private hospitals.

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