Govt healthcare vs private healthcare

One of the priorities given by the West Bengal Government under Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from the very beginning is to healthcare for the common, especially poor, people. Treatment in government hospitals has now become practically free. Complicated surgical operations which cost lakhs of rupees in private hospitals and nursing homes are performed free in government hospitals and done by top surgeons in their respective fields. The private hospitals have become money-minting machines where the patients or their relatives are regularly overcharged, their bills are highly inflated, they are forced to buy medicines only from the pharmacies approved by the hospital concerned at exorbitant prices. Ordinary injection syringes are charged several hundred per cent higher than their actual cost. In addition, they routinely get rude behaviour from the doctors and supporting staff. They have to suffer the overcharging and the gratuitous humiliation silently.
Now the State Government is acquiring highly sophisticated diagnostic equipment costing hundreds of crores of rupees to bring the government healthcare system at par with the best private hospitals and nursing homes. The cost will not be passed on to the patients but borne by the Government. In diseases like aplastic anaemia, bone marrow transplantation is the only curative treatment. It costs a fortune. Now the Calcutta Medical College is transplanting bone marrow completely free of cost. The expenditure comes to ten to twelve lakh rupees per patient.
Incidence of cancer of all types is rising rapidly. The selling price of anti-cancer drugs has no relation to the actual cost of production and reasonable profit. They are exorbitantly charged because the drug manufacturers know that the relations of patients will spend everything they have to save the life of the patient. Giving these highly costly drugs free to the patient is not enough. The State Government should move the Centre for enacting legislation to prevent profiteering and bringing down the prices of these drugs to a reasonable level. Second and no less important is for the government to encourage research in its laboratories and institutes for making alternative cancer-cure drugs and take their patents immediately so that unscrupulous private manufacturers are not able to have access to the formulae to inflate their profits. Research for developing anti-cancer drugs and their field trials in government hospitals will be a giant stride forward in bringing cancer treatment within the means of the common man. The West Bengal Government should try to make medicare available to all, instead of pampering crony capitalism.

Friday, 5 January, 2018