Thursday, May 08, 2008

Supreme Court strikes down Ramadoss law / priorities

Well, the real name of the amendment brought in by the Government at the urging of the DMK Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss was actually the AIIMS Amendment Act; it should have been called the anti-Venugopal Act since though the law fixed the upper age of retirement of the AIIMS Director to be 65, based on which the noted heart surgeon had to resign. However, since Parliament, in a new low for the Government, actually spent time in passing a law that was directed specifically at one person; it was very easily challenged in court as being discriminatory and meant only to retire him. Venugopal challenged the Act, and even during the initial discussions, the SC had some strong words to say to the Government.

The Central Government on Thursday received a major setback with the Supreme Court striking down the law that enabled premature retirement of noted cardiologist P Venugopal as the Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) after a raging row with Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss.

The net effect of the Supreme Court action has been that the health minister has suffered a severe reversal in his battle with the AIIMS Director. And of course, questions must be asked of the Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, this was after all the Bill of his Government and the Government has suffered the setback.
In other steps, the Health Minister has lead a campaign against drinking and smoking, and he is justified to that extent since these 2 are a cause of a large number of casualties. However, there are far more severe problems that the Minister and the Government don't seem too enthusiastic to tackle, since they are not glamorous. Take a look at this cover page article of TIME magazine that blows a hole in the quality of India's health services:

It's not hard to find people caught in the gap between India's dreams of greatness and the awful reality of its broken health system. Most of the country lives there. Sixty years after independence, India remains one of the unhealthiest places on earth. Millions of people still suffer from diseases and ailments that simply no longer exist almost anywhere else on the planet. Four out of five children are anemic. Almost one in four women who give birth receives no antenatal care.
The truth behind the glossy advertising is less incredible: India remains the sick man of Asia, malnourished and obese at the same time, beset by epidemics of AIDS and diabetes, and with spending levels on public health that even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has conceded "are seriously lagging behind other developing countries in Asia." The sorry state of India's medical services might not matter so much if tens of millions of Indians weren't already so sick.

I would advise people to read the whole article, it is is no way complimentary and displays a state of health that a lot of us, who now depend on the private health care system, don't know about and don't care. And in the midst of this, we have successive Governments who care about things that make political logic; trying to spend the long time and effort to overhaul a broken health care system does not matter anymore.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 6:18 AM