My name is Anika Parashar. I run the Fortis La Femme hospitals for Women and Children. I am founder of Organ India, an NGO for Organ Donation Transplants and Recipients. I am granddaughter to one of the first women Professors of Paediatrics in our country and also granddaughter to a dedicated and committed Army Nurse. I am a trained therapeutic counsellor and coach. I am a single, working mother. I am a woman committed to contributing to the growth and progression of my colourful, wonderful, democratic country. Today I write wearing each of my hats. Wearing all of my hats.
Democracy – the Wikipedia Definition
Democracy (Greek: δημοκρατία dēmokratía, literally “rule of the people”), in modern usage, is a system of government in which the citizens exercise power directly or elect representatives from among themselves to form a governing body, such as a parliament. Democracy is sometimes referred to as “rule of the majority”. Democracy is a system of processing conflicts in which outcomes depend on what participants do, but no single force controls what occurs and its outcomes.
Private Sector – the Wikipedia Definition
The Private Sector is the part of the economy, sometimes referred to as the citizen sector, which is run by private individuals or groups, usually as a means of enterprise for profit, and is not controlled by the State. (Areas of the economy controlled by the state are referred to as the Public Sector).
Private Healthcare – the Wikipedia Definition
According to National Family Health Survey-3, the private medical sector remains the primary source of health care for 70% of households in urban areas and 63% of households in rural areas. The study conducted by IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics in 2013, across 12 states in over 14,000 households indicated a steady increase in the usage of private healthcare facilities over the last 25 years for both Out Patient and In Patient services, across rural and urban areas.
Our country is finally being counted amongst the giants of the world as our economy has grown to be more robust over the last decade. With private sector enterprise having grown across industries, we live in a democracy; with rights to choose and we have a plethora of choices before us. We enjoy the right and the freedom to choose who is worthy of running our country, where to live and how we would like to, we exercise the right to choose what to consume and how – or do we still?
With current attacks on the private healthcare system in India, I question this. The government claims to be focused on patient rights, capping prices, punishing non-compliance to years of imprisonment and escalating fines. What about all the patients that the private healthcare system has treated over the years? What about all those patients who have CHOSEN and continue to CHOOSE the private system (yes, basis their ability to pay), to get treatment for themselves or their loved ones? Yes, we charge for our services. Private Healthcare belongs to the PRIVATE SECTOR. As per the Wikipedia definition above, we do not claim to be non-profit. We provide healthcare which denotes a certain premium quality of care. This costs. We need to make up our costs. We need to pay our people. Therefore, we need to charge for our services. Nothing wrong with that in any industry, in any economy, in any country of the world.
And yet. We are being crucified. With the stringent laws in West Bengal, to the attempt at them with KPME in Bangalore recently, our hospital management and our Clinicians have been made to live in fear and as criminals rather than the Gods of the yesteryears. For decades now, every Indian family has dreamt of pushing their children to become Doctors. The most trusted, respected profession in the country; God’s avataars here on earth to heal lives, enrich lives and save lives are now cowering in fear! Who is going to encourage their children to become doctors and which doctors will stay and work in India when they are treated with such disrespect? I would like to challenge the States, the same Government officials who are provoking these changes – have they never chosen to take their loved ones to a private healthcare facility over a government one in the interest of better, more hands on care? Have they not chosen to pay higher prices for the same? This is the point of choice.
Private Healthcare is not free. It is not subsidised. It is for those who can afford it or who choose to spend on it. Like any private industry sector. Consumers (who can), choose hotels over dhabbas or standalone restaurants, they choose faster technology over simpler tech, they choose fancier cars over basic ones. That is the very genesis of consumerism in a free economy – the right to choose.
The Media in their interest to sensationalise everything have further tarnished a respectable, noble profession/industry. Cases and incidents are picked up and torn to shreds. Tragedy is picked apart. Pain is picked apart. Loss is picked apart. Do none of these media professionals avail private healthcare? Have they too like all of us, not had a loved one being born or recovering from illness in a private healthcare facility?
As rewarding as being a healthcare professional is, it is as difficult. We have to face disease, despondency and death. And as much as we try, we just cannot save everyone. As much as we try, we cannot always make everyone better. There is nothing that brings to light one’s own mortal limitations more than this. I have been lucky enough to work with and interact with wonderful clinicians all across India. Professionals who really care about what they do, who are passionate about their work, who have returned home from other countries to serve their own, who try their best to do their best with every patient…. And who’s hearts break a little every time they can’t control outcomes. And that IS the reality. THEY cannot, WE cannot, always control outcomes. Like me, they too have personal stories. We all, as healthcare professionals, like in every industry in the world, have families to feed. So if we charge for quality healthcare, whilst we love and look after people, then why should we as an industry, apologise for it? When hotels don’t, restaurants don’t, high priced airlines, malls, cars, tech companies don’t. Then why should we?
And why should we be penalised for it?
Let me remind you my friends, this is India. A free economy. A democracy. Home of a booming private sector which has led to a more robust economy. Let us not shoot ourselves down and sabotage ourselves in what we offer our consumers and bring about the extinction of the worlds most respected profession.