nationalisation of private research facilities


Desperate Times Call for Radical Measures: COVID-19 and the Need for the Immediate Nationalisation of the Indian Healthcare Sector 

The Epidemics Act, 1897 gives the central and state governments authority to impose any regulations which may be necessary to contain the outbreak of a disease. Some state governments such as Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhatisgarh have already used this power to bring private healthcare facilities in their state under government control. Now that the national lockdown has been eased to a large extent, COVID-19 cases are predicted to increase rapidly in the coming days. Our government needs to do everything in its power to prepare hospitals, medical equipment and healthcare workers, as well as to scale up testing, tracing and isolation measures, to face this imminent deluge. At such a time, the nationalisation of the private healthcare sector in India is a possibility that must be seriously considered. At the global level, this would hardly be an unprecedented move. We already have examples of countries like Spain and Ireland, which have taken over private healthcare facilities to strengthen their COVID-19 response. Demands for more such measures are gaining strength around the world. Healthcare workers, who are at the frontlines of this crisis, have called for an end to profiteering in healthcare. For example, recently on International Nurses Day, the Public Services International, which is a global union federation of workers in public services, called on governments to work with nurses and their unions to develop public health reconstruction plans which put an end to “the perverse practice of extracting profits from ill-health”. According to a news report, private hospitals employ four out of every five doctors, have two-thirds of the hospital beds and almost 80% of the ventilators available in India, but, at the time of the report, they were handling less than 10% of COVID-19 cases. While COVID-19 testing and all medical care remain free of cost in the public healthcare sector, in the private sector there is a maximum cap of Rs. 4500 on the cost for a test, and it has been reported that the cost of medical and intensive care for COVID-19 could go up to several lakh rupees for fifteen days of hospitalization. What…