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‘Open more private hospitals in next five years, make healthcare a fundamental right’: Panel

NEW DELHI:  A high-level panel on reforms in the health sector has come up with radical suggestions like shifting healthcare from the state list to the concurrent list in the Constitution, opening over 3,000-5,000 small private hospitals in the next five years, and declaring the Right to Health as a fundamental right on the 75th Independence day next year.

Putting the sector in the concurrent list would squeeze state autonomy and give the Centre greater say in public healthcare across India.

The committee recommended that the number of MBBS and PG seats in the country be made equal by 2025.

Also, training offered to teachers ought to be different as compared to that for medical service providers, it suggested.

The panel, which was set up by the 15th Finance Commission, submitted its report to the government recently.

Headed by AIIMS, Delhi Director Dr Randeep Guleri, the panel comprises Dr Devi Shetty, Chairman, Narayana Health, Bengaluru, Dr Dilip Govind Mhaisekar, Vice-Chancellor of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman of Medanta, Dr Bhabatosh Biswas of R G Kar Medical College, Kolkata and K Srinath Reddy, president of Public Health Foundation of India.

“These recommendations are a result of long discussions among us and officials of Niti Aayog, the health ministry and policy experts from outside,” said a panel member.

The panel also suggested hiking allocation for healthcare to 2.5% of the GDP, adding both Central and state governments should be nudged to increase spending on the sector.

“We unanimously agreed-upon large investment in primary healthcare — almost up to two-thirds of the total budgetary allocation.”