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Make make healthcare a fundamental right, Villupuram MP urges Centre

‘The Directive Principles of our Constitution provide a basis for the right to health’, argues D. Ravikumar

Villupuram Member of Parliament D. Ravikumar has urged the Centre to introduce a Bill in the forthcoming monsoon session of Parliament to amend Article 21 of the Constitution and make healthcare as a fundamental right for all citizens.

In a letter addressed to Union Minister for Law and Justice Ravishankar Prasad, Mr. Ravikumar said that the COVID-19 pandemic had not only become a major health crisis but also an economic crisis for the country’s citizens. Access to adequate health facilities still remains a distant dream.

“Though the National Health Policy of 2017 has proposed a potentially achievable target of raising public health expenditure to 2.5 % of the GDP in a time bound manner, the allocation of funds for Health has reduced in the successive Union budgets. As a result most people have to pay heavy fee for medical care out of their pockets to avail medical care from both private and public sector medical institutions,” he said.

Though the Constitution of India does not expressly guarantee a fundamental right to health, there are multiple references in the Constitution to public health and on the role of the State in the provision of healthcare to citizens.

The Directive Principles of our Constitution provide a basis for the right to health, he argued.

In the State of Punjab & ORS v Mohinder Singh Chawla, the Supreme Court had reaffirmed that the right to health is fundamental to the right to life and should be put on record that the government had a constitutional obligation to provide health services, he said.

Mr. Ravikumar said that the government headed by then Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee in 2002 had made education a fundamental right in the constitution.

“This is the time to amend the constitution to make public health a fundamental right. The Centre should bring a Bill in the forthcoming monsoon session of Parliament to amend Article 21 of the constitution and make health a fundamental right,” he said.

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