Open letter to the Health minister, Karnataka state government

Image result for health minister ramesh kumar

19 June 2017

Dear Sir,

With regard to the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill, 2017, tabled in the Karnataka Assembly in June 2017, we support the government’s decision of regulating private medical establishments, introducing a Charter of patients right’s, creating a grievance redressal committee and fixing a cap on rates.

Karnataka has seen a massive growth of the private sector which has neither self-regulated nor allowed any form of government control. This has led to rampart overcharging, denial of patients’ rights, negligence, unnecessary procedures and tests. Patients have been over-charged and held to ransom. The cost to life and the burden that private healthcare has imposed on patients has been well documented in India as well as other countries. Government health services, on the other hand, have systems of monitoring and oversight, even if the implementation has generally been poor.
When the government health system is strong, health has shown to improve, easily measured by maternal and child mortality rates. The government health system, apart from its curative role, plays an important role in prevention, promotion of health and rehabilitation. The private sector has never taken up preventive roles because it has low economic value. While the public sector undergoes rigorous training on management of diseases of public health importance such as tuberculosis, HIV, non-communicable diseases, dengue etc., the private sector has often initiated treatments that not only lead to bad outcomes for the patient, but create major public health problems such as antibiotic resistance, Multi-drug resistance and other complications which are then left for the public health system to manage. Rather than working on prevention of public health diseases like dengue, the private sector often capitalises on the fear syndrome for its own private gain.

It is also well known that private hospitals have no mechanism of reporting data on morbidity, mortality, caesarean sections, hysterectomies and other surgeries. There is poor documentation and maintenance of records for the rationale (if any) behind investigations and treatment, referral patterns and cause of death, if it occurs. Patients therefore have very little access to information if they would like to have a second opinion, which they are entitled to, or if they suspect negligence and would like to pursue the case legally. The public health system has a more rigorous system of data collection and transmission, which helps to understand disease and mortality, as well as diseases of public health concern.

It is also well known that expert doctors very rarely testify against colleagues even in the face of obvious denial of care or negligence. This makes patients and their relatives extremely vulnerable and puts them completely at the mercy of medical establishments, with doctors as experts.

With the Vajpayee Arogyashree scheme (VAS), private empanelled hospitals have demonstrated how they are quite ready to manipulate the government for economic gains, pick and choose lucrative patients, while closing the door on patients who are terminally ill or requiring protracted care. They have also been shown to bring on several added costs for patients over and above the money received through VAS. This has created a burden on patients, with out of pocket expenditure under the scheme ranging between Rs. 10,000 to more than Rs. 1 lakh.

We therefore feel that your move to regulate private medical establishments is urgently required and long overdue. We feel that the government should not give in to the pressure exerted by the private sector lobby and instead do whatever is required to ensure that all patients, irrespective of their ability to pay, are offered access to comprehensive preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative health care.

This would go a long way in making the government people centric instead of market centric, and make Karnataka a model of comprehensive health care for other states to follow.

In solidarity

  1. Dr. Ambrose Pinto SJ, Principal, St. Aloysius Degree College, Cox Town, Bangalore 560005
  2. Brinda Pancholi
  3. Meena P, Azim Premji University.
  4. Teena Xavier, Karnataka Janarogya Chaluvali (Kalaburgi)
  5. Chethan BV
  6. G. Ravi, Jana Chinthana Kendra
  7. Vishal Kumar, Theatre research scholar
  8. Sumathy Nagendra, Bhumika media
  9. Dr. Sunil Kumar Hebbi
  10. Jayaram, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Bangalore
  11. Dr. Venkat Pandu
  12. Karthik Ranganathan
  13. Lohith Sharanappa
  14. Sujatha Mody
  15. Safiya, Movement for Justice
  16. Pushpa Achanta, Journalist and trainer
  17. Dr. Sylvia Karpagam, Public health doctor
  18. Dr. Karthik Bittu, Biologist
  19. Nagarjun Kandukuru
  20. Geeta Thatra, Researcher, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  21. Meera Sanghamitra, National Alliance of People’s Movement
  22. Cynthia Stephen, Independent policy researcher and journalist
  23. Siddharth K Joshi
  24. Chetana
  25. Bala Krishnan
  26. S.S.Rajani, Consultant, development sector
  27. Sowjanya B, IT employee
  28. Gee Imaan Semmalar, Sampoorna
  29. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, health and human rights activist
  30.  Rajesh Umadevi Srinivas, Sangama
  31. Stanley Thangaraj
  32. Leon Luis
  33. Nidhin S, IT employee
  34. Guru, Associate director, Basic needs India
  35. Dr. Akhila Vasan, Karnataka Janarogya Chaluvali
  36. Vijayakumar S, Karnataka Janarogya Chaluvali
  37. Vinay K Sreenivasa. Alternative Law Forum
  38. Doddipalya Narasimhamurthy, Swaraj Abhiyan
  39. Dr. Vasu. Karnataka Jana Shakti
  40. Karnataka Janaarogya Chaluvali
  41. Karnataka Janashakti
  42. Karnataka loading and unloading workers union
  43. Safai Karmachari Kavalu samiti
  44. Alternative Law Forum
  45. Slum Janandolana Karnataka
  46. Right to Water Campaign
  47. Karnataka Jana Shakti
  48. Mahila Munnade
  49. Swaraj Sanghatane
  50. Movement for Justice
  51. Swaraj Abhiyan
  52. Sangama, Karnataka Sex Workers’ Union
  53. Garment and Textile Workers’ Union
  54. Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha
  55. Janaandolanagala Mahamaitri
  56. Samanathegaagi Janaandolana
  57. Manthan Law
  58. Dalit Sangarsh Samiti (DSS)
  59. Jana Sangram Parishat
  60. Samaana Shikshekaagi Jandandolana
  61. People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)


  1. Please bring even more strict because people are suffering like anything by this private hospitals . It’s my humble request please control private hospital


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