Intensify Movement for A Better Health System - Dipankar Bhattacharya
Renowned doctors, ASHA workers, Anganwadi Sevikas and Sahayikas and other health workers participated in the 'Swasth Bihar, Hamara Adhikar' (A Healthy Bihar, Our Right) digital conference organized by the CPIML on Doctors Day, 1 July 2021, and spoke about the challenges and sorrows of Covid times while pledging to launch an extensive health movement in Bihar.
Those who spoke at the conference included CPIML General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya, Swasthya Jan Abhiyan Convener Dr Shakeel, Bihar IMA Working President Dr Ajay Kumar, Jodhpur AIIMS obstetrician Dr Arun Singh, renowned child specialist Dr Kafeel Khan, ASHA Workers Union leader Tarannum Faizi, Anganwadi worker Khushnuma Parveen, ASHA Workers Union State Secretary Anita Sharma, President Shashi Yadav, ANM Sulekha Kumari, Agiaon MLA Manoj Manzil and others. CPIML State Secretary Kunal presented statistics of death in Covid times and exposed the government's lies. CPIML Politburo member Dhirendra Jha conducted the program. Hundreds of people participated in this people's conference organized on Zoom.
The conference started with tributes to all doctors who lost their lives in Covid times. A video prepared by Jan Sanskriti Manch on 'Apnon ki Yaad' and the ongoing health movement in Bihar was also shown.
Speaking on the occasion CPIML General Secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya called on people to turn this disaster into a movement for a better health system. He said that the conference had three main dimensions. First, to count every death and remember and honour each person who died in Covid times. The government is hiding the real numbers in order to avoid paying compensation but it is good that the Supreme Court is putting pressure on the government for this. Second, we must put pressure on the government to improve the health system and make health a major issue like employment. Third, we must fight a decisive battle against the policy of privatization.
Dr Shakeel said we must create a counter narrative to the false narrative spun by the government. Dr Ajay Kumar stressed the need for quality health care for all. Dr Arun Singh and Dr Kafeel Khan said that health is a fundamental right and it is the government's responsibility to ensure this. Handing the health sector over to insurance companies will not be accepted. Khushnuma Parveen, Anita Sharma and Shashi Yadav spoke about the crucial role played by ASHAs and other health workers in fighting Covid, and said the government is extracting work from them but giving them neither safety equipment nor minimum honorarium.
Conrade Kunal presented Covid period death statistics that show that the Bihar government is hiding the true statistics and grossly undercounting deaths.
Following Resolutions were passed at the conference:
- Pay Rs 4 lakhs compensation to families of all who died in Covid times and institute a High Court monitored enquiry into the deaths.
- Guarantee vaccination for all within 3 months to avoid a 3rd Covid wave.
- Make Bihar hospitals patient-friendly and guarantee safety and dignity of doctors, nurses and medical staff.
- Spend 10% of total State budget on health and double the expenditure per patient.
- Equip Primary Health Sub-Centres, Additional Health Centres, PHCs, CHCs, Referral and District Hospitals with full medical facilities and appoint doctors, nurses and health workers to all vacant posts. Make ambulance facilities mandatory and transparent.
- Increase the number of super-specialty hospitals and pass a Regulatory Act for private hospitals and nursing homes.
- Regularise employment of ASHAs, Anganwadis Mamtas, canteen workers, drivers, sanitation workers and other workers and ensure dignified salary for them.
The conference called for an extensive movement on the issue of health in Bihar.