Webinar :Register now for webinar on 'Trade BankNifty in just 15 minutes a day' - By Asmita Patel
Last Updated : Nov 21, 2020 07:30 PM IST | Source: PTI

Private hospitals charged exorbitant fees, spending on health abysmally low: Parliamentary panel on COVID-19

This is the first report by any parliamentary committee on the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Representative Image (Image: Reuters)
Representative Image (Image: Reuters)

Amid rising COVID-19 cases, inadequate beds in government hospitals and absence of specific guidelines for COVID treatment resulted in private hospitals charging exorbitant fees, a parliamentary panel on Saturday said, asserting that a sustainable pricing model could have averted many deaths. Chairperson of the parliamentary standing committee on health Ram Gopal Yadav submitted the report on 'Outbreak of Pandemic Covid-19 and its Management', to Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu.

This is the first report by any parliamentary committee on the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Underlining that healthcare spending in the country with a population of 1.3 billion is "abysmally low", the panel said fragility of Indian health ecosystem posed a big hurdle in generating an effective response against the pandemic.

AstraZeneca starts new COVID-19 prevention trials of antibody cocktail 


"The committee, therefore, strongly recommends the government to increase its investments in the public healthcare system and make consistent efforts to achieve the National Health Policy targets of expenditure up to 2.5 per cent of GDP within two years as the set time frame of year 2025 is far away and the public health cannot be jeopardised till that time schedule," the report stated. The National Health Policy 2017 has set a target of government expenditure on healthcare up to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2025 from just 1.15 per cent in 2017.

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

View more
How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

View more

Stating that the public had to undergo trauma and distress due to absence of a dedicated healthcare system, the committee observed that the number of government hospital beds in the country were not adequate to handle the increasing number of COVID and non-COVID patients. "… Cost of health service delivery increased due to absence of specific guidelines for COVID treatment in private hospitals as a result of which patients were charged exorbitant fees," the committee noted in the report.

Stressing on the need for better partnership between the government and private hospitals in wake of the pandemic and shortage of state-run healthcare facilities, the report said, "The Committee is of the view that arriving at a sustainable pricing model to treat COVID patients could have averted many deaths." The committee believes healthcare should never be limited to only those who can afford to pay but should move towards the noble vision of universal health coverage. For this happen, the government needs to be considerate and support the private health care sector, the report said.

The committee was all praise for healthcare workers and doctors for being on frontline in handling of the deadly virus and said they should have defined working hours, predictably functioning reliever rosters and scheduled off-duty days. The doctors, who have laid down their lives in fight against the pandemic, must be acknowledged as martyrs and their families be adequately compensated, it suggested in the report.
First Published on Nov 21, 2020 07:30 pm