One in 4 Indians faced discrimination while accessing health services due to their caste and religion, Oxfam India said in a report released on Tuesday. Muslims, followed by Dalits, emerged to be most discriminated against communities in terms of healthcare, according to Oxfam's 'Securing Rights of Patients in India' survey. "A third of Muslim respondents, over 20% Dalit and Adivasi respondents, and 30% of overall respondents 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," Oxfam India said.
The survey was conducted from 28 States and 5 Union territories.
The report said the Covid-19 pandemic has 'brought into sharp relief the extent to which rights of patients are violated across India'. The past 20 months of pandemic interspersed with tiding waves of record-breaking cases has overstretched the already stressed healthcare system in India. "In this period, patients had to endure various indignities, including being denial of essential healthcare services, being forced to pay inflated hospital bills in the private sector, and being refused admission for emergency services without a COVID-19 test," the report said.
Marginalized communities like Dalits, Adivasis and religious minorities like Muslims faced new forms of violence, and discrimination in both public and private hospitals, the report said.
Earlier, Boom carried an analysis of the prevalence of misinformation and fake news in one year of pandemic. Interestingly, while communal misinformation remains one of the most popular topic of COVID-19 mis/disinformation, such claims were only seen in the month of April 2020.
An analysis of our Boom's stories revealed that a bulk of the COVID-19-related fact checks were on communal rumours, most of which were false allegations against Muslims, of purposefully spreading the virus. These messages appeared in April, after several members of the Tablighi Jamaat tested positive for Covid-19 following a gathering in Delhi's Nizamuddin area in March 2020.
The analysis of fake news after one year of pandemic revealed that 14% of misinformation around pandemic had communal tones to them. Read the complete story here.
India's Healthcare Shortcomings
The Oxfam report pointed at many loopholes in the Indian healthcare system. For example, 58% respondents of the survey said they were not provided with an estimated cost of treatment before the start of the procedure when they or their close relatives were hospitalised in the past 10 years. 31% respondents reported being denied case papers, patient records, investigation reports for treatment/procedure by the hospital even after requesting for the same, the report said.
35% of women told Oxfam India that they underwent physical examination by male attendant without a female present in the room.
Denying the patients the right to second opinion, at least a third of respondents said themselves/their relatives hospitalised said their doctor did not allow them to seek a second opinion.
Despite the record-breaking numbers in Covid-19 vaccination drive, 43% of the respondents in Oxfam's survey said they could not get vaccinated because the vaccination centres had run out of shots. Another 12% said they could not get inoculated owing to the high prices of the vaccines. Nine percent of the respondents said they had to lose a day's wages to get themselves vaccinated, according to report 'Securing Rights of Patients in India'.
While the vaccines are given for free in government facilities, private centres charge varying amounts. In June, the Centre capped the prices of Covid-19 vaccines for private hospitals. For Covishield it was fixed at Rs 780, Covaxin at Rs 1,410, and SputnikV Rs 1,145.
"The private hospitals may charge up to a maximum of Rs 150 per dose as service charges. State governments may monitor the price being so charged," the health ministry had then said in the order.
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