GUWAHATI, March 11 � The State Government today introduced The Assam Public Health Bill, 2010, in the Legislative Assembly with a view to protecting and fulfilling the rights of the people in matters related to health and well-being, health equity and justice. Moreover, it has sought to guarantee the people their right to appropriate and efficacious medicines and right to effective measures for prevention, treatment and control of epidemic and endemic diseases.
The Bill, which is coming for consideration on March 31, has also sought to make coordination with other relevant departments obligatory for the Health Department for the sake of providing the people access to the minimum essential food �which is nutritionally adequate,� �adequate supply of drinking water,� �sanitation through appropriate and effective sewerage and drainage systems,� among others.
Addressing a press conference after the day�s session of the House, Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the driving spirit of the Bill is to establish the right of the people to health as a basic right. Assam has become the first State in introducing such a Bill, he said.
The Bill has proposed that all health care institutions, irrespective of their being in the public or private sector, are to provide �free health care services maintaining appropriate protocol of treatment for the first 24 hours to an emergency patient of any kind,� said the Health Minister.
The Bill has also proposed to fix responsibilities of the other departments concerned in matters of providing the people the proper atmosphere for a healthy life. With this aim in view, the Bill has proposed that the departments concerned must ensure that the systems concerning waste disposal and management, pollution control, control of ecological degradation, control of insects etc are in place, among others, he said.
He also claimed that for the first time, the provision for Health Impact Assessment (HIA) of new development projects has also been provided in the Bill, besides the adoption of Indian Public Health Standards (IPHS) by the Health and Family Welfare Department for the health institutions under its control and the semi-Government as well as private nursing homes or health establishments.
Further, it has proposed formation of patient welfare societies (Rogi Kalyan Samiti) for various categories of health institutions. One of the significant provisions of the Bill is to authorize the Health Department for framing rules etc to prescribe remedial measures in case a patient fails to receive attention in a Government hospital or health establishment due to absence of the doctors or any other medical staff.
The Bill has also proposed a State Public Health Board with the Chief Secretary as its chairperson and District Public Health Boards with the Deputy Commissioners of the districts concerned/ Principal Secretaries of the Autonomous Councils in the Sixth Schedule districts or their nominees as the chairpersons, for monitoring its implementation..
However, it has a provision which states that every health care provider has the right to be treated with respect and dignity by the user and to expect the user to comply with all the duties as enumerated in the Bill, said the Health Minister.
The State Government also introduced seven other Bills today. These include�The Assam Taxation (On Specified Lands) (Amendment) Bill, 2010, The Assam Moslem Marriages and Divorces Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2010, The Guwahati Waterbodies (Preservation and Conservation) (Amendment) Bill, 2010, The Assam Nagara Raj (Amendment) Bill, 2010, The Guwahati Building Construction (Registration) Bill, 2010, The Assam Down Town University Bill, 2010 and The Assam College Employees (Provincialisation) (Amendment) Bill, 2010.