NHRC plans draft legislation on rights of patients


New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission is mulling to come out with a draft legislation that seeks to protect the rights of patients and ensure that standard treatment is made available to everyone.

The Commission has also written to the Centre and state governments with regard to the rise in the number of people inflicted by silicosis, a respiratory disease caused by breathing in silica dust, asking them to take steps to give priority to such patients in all hospitals.

PC Sharma, member, NHRC, said the trend of patients “surrendering themselves before doctors” should end and every patient should have the right to know what kind of disease he has been inflicted with and the kind of treatment needed.

“We have asked the Government for the need (for a legislation). We are trying to make a draft with the help of NGOs. We are of the opinion that at least there should be a draft. Just as you can demand the right to education and equality, one should get the right to health also,” he told reporters here.

“We want a legislation which says that the doctor should tell the patient about his disease and other details. Now the patient goes and surrenders himself before the doctor. There are instances where doctors don’t listen to patients and just give them some medicines,” he said.

On silicosis, the NHRC member said all states have been asked to take precautions under the Industries Act and make sure that employees undergo periodic health check-up.

“We have also told the states that they should instruct hospitals that such patients should be treated immediately. Many hospitals don’t treat them by giving some reasons. This should be stopped,” he said.
Sharma said urgent attention has to be given for development of infrastructure in hospitals in the country and also expressed concerned over the “widespread” racket in sub- standard medicine.

He also said the NHRC wants the Centre to come out with an Act on prevention of silicosis as the disease affects mostly the poorer sections of the society.

Notices were sent to a number of states where deaths have occurred due to the disease and only Rajasthan responded positively by giving Rs three lakh to the families of the victims of silicosis.

“Silicosis, hitherto, remains a neglected area. This is a disease which is irreversible. Victims of this disease are mostly migrants who are in search of jobs. Protection to them is granted under labour laws, but these things are not followed,” he said.

He also claimed that in some cases state government authorities refused to look into complaints of people afflicted with the diseases because they were from the unorganised sector.

“This is the most serious grievous violation of human rights,” he said.

Sharma said the NHRC is also concerned about the lack of doctors in the field of mental health and asked the MCI to add mental health as part of curriculum for MBBS students.

He also said this disease cannot be cured only medically but also needed proper care by families.

Source- NHRC Release

‘Make silicosis a notifiable disease’


 

Plight of the Silicosis victims and their family members at Musabani Ghatsila. The potential victims of silicosis are poor migrant workers employed in quarries, mines, gem cutting and other hazardous occupations such as construction sites, a majority of whom are likely to die for lack of specialised treatment. File photo

Plight of the Silicosis victims and their family members at Musabani Ghatsila. The potential victims of silicosis are poor migrant workers employed in quarries, mines, gem cutting and other hazardous occupations such as construction sites, a majority of whom are likely to die for lack of specialised treatment. File photo

Special Report- The  Hindu
Health facilities, adequate compensation must be provided

Taking a serious note of the increasing silicosis-related deaths in the country, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended that silicosis be made a notifiable disease. Once notified, all government and private health facilities will have to report confirmed as well as suspected silicosis cases to the government.

Silicosis is an incurable lung disease caused by inhaling of dust containing free crystalline silica. The potential victims of silicosis are poor migrant workers employed in quarries, mines, gem cutting and other hazardous occupations such as construction sites, a majority of whom are likely to die for lack of specialised treatment.

In a special report — a first of its kind — presented to Parliament, the NHRC has suggested that the government should ensure health facilities to all workers employed at places prone to silica and earmark adequate compensation to the families in case of death.

Talking to reporters here on Friday, P.C. Sharma, NHRC member, said the governments often adopted a strange attitude by saying that those employed in such hazardous jobs were migrant labourers and under the unorganised sector of employment, and hence not much could be done.

“This is a grievous violation of human rights because laws should be equal for organised and unorganised sector workers, keeping in mind the fact that a majority of workers in the country fall in the category of unemployed sector,” he said.

Mr. Sharma admitted that numerous laws were only on paper and poorly implemented. Preventive measures and health care facilities should be the responsibility of the employers, he said.

The Commission has also written to all States to identify the hazardous industries and mapping them for silica generation which results in silicosis. The response from the States were not adequate and they had been asked to send specific answers.

The report to Parliament also suggests regular check-up for the workers employed at places where they are exposed to silica and even linking silica treatment with the TB Control Programme.

It was based on the NHRC recommendation that Rajasthan enhanced compensation in case of silica-related death to Rs.3 lakh. It has also set up a corpus of Rs.25 crore for the purpose as instances of silica-related cases are very high in that State.

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