A third of Muslims, over 20 per cent Dalits and Adivasis, and 30 per cent people in general reported being discriminated against on the grounds of religion, caste or because of illness or health conditions in a hospital or by a healthcare professional, according to a new report released on Tuesday.
The report by Oxfam India is based on a latest survey ‘Securing Rights of Patients in India’, and provides a perspective on the plight of patients and citizens in the healthcare system.
The pan-India survey was conducted between February and April 2021, and received 3,890 responses. The survey showed lapses in implementation of patients’ rights to information, informed consent and second opinion.
More than 70 per cent people said that the doctor simply wrote the prescription or treatment or asked them to get tests/investigations done without explaining their disease, nature and/or cause of illness, while more than half did not receive any information about investigations and tests being done when hospitalised. At least a third said their doctor did not allow a second opinion.
Shockingly, 19 per cent of the respondents whose close relatives were hospitalised said they were denied release of the body by the hospital, and 35 per cent of women said that they underwent physical examination by a male without a female present in the room.
Further, 30 per cent people said that they have been discriminated against due to an illness or health condition that they have, 12 per cent people felt that they have been discriminated against on grounds of religion, 13 per cent people felt that they have been discriminated against due to their caste. One-third of Muslims said that they have been discriminated against on the grounds of their religion in a hospital or by a healthcare professional.
“The survey shows that the basic rights of patients’ in India are being routinely denied in healthcare facilities, for the poor and middle class alike. Skewed power dynamics with respect to class, caste, religion, and gender between the healthcare providers and patients deepen existing structural inequalities in the healthcare system,” said Oxfam India CEO Amitabh Behar, in a statement.
“The Patients’ Rights Charter drafted by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare needs to be immediately adopted by state governments along with robust grievance redressal mechanisms to provide citizens with recourse when things go wrong,” Behar added.