The right to health remains the proverbial step-child of India’s socio-economic rights protections. Sustained advocacy around the right to education and the right to food in the courts has translated into detailed statutory regimes that protect them. In contrast, the jurisprudence on the right to health remains scattered, and proposals for a dedicated right-to-health law remain on the backburner. Practically, this means that there is a poor understanding of the meaning of the components of the right to health, and consequently, poor protection of the right, manifested by inadequate budgetary allocations, weak regulation of the private healthcare sector, and a lack of accountability in public health systems. This has a cascading effect on public trust in healthcare delivery, one of the underlying causes for the rise in violence against healthcare workers. The Covid-19 pandemic has thrown all these failings into sharp relief.
Vidhi aims to provide meaningful content to the right to health which is protected as part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Vidhi has adopted a rights-based approach to strengthening healthcare regulation. It has assisted in developing a regulatory regime for medical devices, charted out a blueprint for a national health insurance law, made recommendations to strengthen the law on organ transplants, and created a model law to guide end of life care in India.
In collaboration with ethicists, healthcare workers, and public health professionals, Vidhi will work towards making India’s legal and regulatory framework prepared for, and responsive to pandemics and other public health emergencies. It will identify standards for accountability and efficiency in healthcare administration, close gaps in healthcare regulation, and help develop effective mechanisms for the protection of patients and healthcare workers.
ART, surrogacy bills: The lapses and the limitations
The laws could have had more imagination, both in their regulatory standard-setting style, and in protecting the rights and interests of all those involved