People's Health Rights

One of the most critical challenges facing India today is reduction of funds allocated for the health of its people. In fact, the State has discreetly withdrawn from the public health system in the country, handing over more and more services, treatment and medications to the corporates, making it impossible for those with low incomes to pay their way through. Espousing the WHO’s broad definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, the People’s Health Rights Initiative (PHRI) works to safeguard human rights enshrined in the Constitution of India and ensure the right to life and health through the use of law.
 

What HRLN Does

Given the intrinsic link between health and the work that the Human Rights Law Network undertakes through its HIV/AIDS, Disability, Women, Child Rights, Sexual and Reproductive Rights Initiative, etc, this Initiative’s efforts are reflected in all our programmes.

Our primary concern is to provide legal services to persons who have been denied treatment, discriminated against, or excluded from the public health system. To this end, the PHRI has filed a series of cases relating to people’s health rights and is setting numerous legal precedents through these cases. Through the strategic use of litigation, it not only provides access to justice for individuals contesting the case, but also develops the definition and concept of people’s health rights in the Indian judiciary by developing positive case-law precedents.

PHRI firmly believes that India must provide access to free medical treatment for its poor and marginalized populations. It therefore strongly advocates against the government’s recent moves to privatize health, insisting that the health system has to prioritize the needs of the poor and needy above all else. Its lawyers and activists participate actively in national debates on health law and policy, engage in advocacy on health rights, train lawyers, activists, and the public about people’s health rights under Indian law, and collaborate with health activists around the country to monitor the implementation of existing government health schemes such as the National Rural Health Mission, the National Maternity Benefit Scheme, the Jannani Surakha Yojana, etc.

Main Concerns

·      Right to life
·      Right to health
·      Universal access to treatment
·      Free access to treatment for the poor and marginalized
·      Universal access to essential drugs
·      Right to information
·      Right to informed consent
·      Right of choice
·      Medical negligence
·      Reasonable care


HRLN Impact

Prior to HRLN’s interventions in the sphere of public health rights, there was virtually no case law that the courts could rely on in cases of violation of people’s right to health. The PHRI team has filed a number of cases that have set case law precedent in Indian judicial history and have expanded the national judicial discourse on health rights. These legal precedents have allowed for people across the country to use the courts to litigate for their right to health.

One landmark petition raised issues that vitally affected the public health and bio-security of the country by challenging the closure of several public sector vaccine production units in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Vaccines are vital in the public health programme of all nations as they are necessary for immunization programmes. The closure of various public sector vaccine production units by the government in favor of privatization would severely impede the availability of vaccines to the poorest and neediest groups. This case achieved its objective as government had to reopen the closed vaccine units. Although this case continues to be heard in the Supreme Court, the larger-scale impact of this petition has been that health activists across the country are now pressing for a rational vaccine policy, which will ensure vaccine security of the country in the long term. (See SP Shukla Vs. Union of India for further information).

Another case filed before the Supreme Court challenged the government of India’s decision to introduce legislation that would alter India’s patent laws and de-subscribe essential medication that was previously subject to price controls. This would have the effect of making new and essential medicines more expensive, effectively placing them beyond the reach of millions of India’s poor. Although this case is still being heard, it has the potential to impact millions by calling for a just and equitable pharmaceutical policy based on the public health needs of the masses, and by ensuring that the government issues a list of essential medicines that would be subject to price controls.

The initiative has filed a series of cases that have achieved results by ensuring the rights of persons with specific health violations. This includes a case arguing for the rights of haemophiliacs to essential life-saving drugs at affordable prices, a case ensuring that the medical costs of prisoners are borne by the state, and a case enquiring into state officials engaging in religious practices in government hospitals that was causing hardship to people whose medical treatment was cancelled as a result.

Its team has also filed a series of cases relating to the conditions of Public Health Centres, Community Health Centres, and facilities in public hospitals. Due to its legal interventions, the government has ordered that blood facilities be made available and has given directions for a number of states to conduct inquiries into their public health systems.
State Level Meeting on Violation of Human Rights in West Bengal During Covid 19

Prior to the announcement of the National Lockdown on 25 March 2020, a number of courts had shut down in response to t ...read more

PIL filed in Orissa High Court seeking priority vaccines and Covid care management to Adivasi and PVTGs

Upendra Bhai Vrs State of Odisha and others-W.P.(C) PIL No. 17182 of 2021
Pending

Minor rape survivor's safe medical termination of pregnancy of 23 weeks

Madhusudha Biswal Vrs State of Odisha -W.P.(C) No. 13546 of 2021
Disposed off

Sundergarh tribal villages objection to plying of commercial coal laden vehicle through their village road.

Rajendra Naik and others Vrs State of Odisha and others -W.P.(C) No. 6587 of 2021
Disposed off

Medical Negligence

Court on its own motion Versus The State of Jharkhand W. P. (PIL) No. 645 of 2021
Inquiry team has to file its report and state of Jharkhand has to file its response

State Quarantine Centre in Deplorable Condition: Lekhi, Arunachal Pradesh

PIL 6 of 2020, Sange Dakpa Loda versus Union of India
Disposed off with directions

HRLN files Amicus in before Republic of Uganda for establishing food reserves

MIsc Appeal in CIVIL APPEAL N0.______OF 2020 AND 1. CENTER FOR FOOD AND ADEQUATE LIVING RIGHTS (CEFROHT) 2. ATTORNEY GENERAL
Pending

Using the Law for Human Rights in Arunachal Pradesh

On 18th July, the Human Rights Law Network, in collaboration with North East Support Centre & Helpline, Himalayan Un ...read more

Medical Termination of Pregnancy of rape victim

Raju Ravidas Versus State of Jharkhand and ors.
Disposed of

Patna High Court takes cognisance of lack of availability of ART Drugs

Mr. ABC vs Executive Director (Health) cum Project Director, Bihar State AIDS Control Society, Bihar
Disposed off

Relief Work - Bihar Unit

HRLN team (Deepak Kumar Singh, Shashwat, Vishal and Fazal Abdali) initiated the identification of the vulnerable familie ...read more

Fact Finding on Manual Scavenging

A team comprising one lawyer from Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) , a law student and a couple of local Social Activists ...read more

High Court Seeks Reply From State in Petition Against Improper Implementation of Menstrual Hygiene Scheme

Indore bench of Madhya Pradesh HC has issued notice to state govt seeking reply in a petition filed against failur ...read more

Madhya Pradesh HC seeks reply from state in petition against improper implementation of Menstrual Hygiene Scheme

INDORE: Indore bench of MP high court has issued notice to state government seeking reply in a petition filed agai ...read more

PIL for Leprosy Patients

Sarang Vs State of Madhya Pradesh W.P. No. 903/2020
Pending

Kerala HRLN provides medical aid to infirm, old Adivasi woman, files petition to improve quality of life

An elderly adivadi woman from the Paniya community had been suffering from cancerous growth in her mouth. She lived with ...read more

Indian Public Health Standards & Right to Health: A Case Study of Raga Primary Health Centre

Amongst the various persisting health problems in India, one of the most pressing – both as a public health and as a h ...read more

Indian Public Health Standards & Right to Health: A Case Study of Ziro District Hospital

“For a middle-income country of its stature and level of development, the rate of maternal deaths in India is shocking ...read more

ESIC cannot sell/lease its medical colleges, says Delhi high court

In a significant move, the Delhi high court on Thursday (October 12, 2017) declared as “legally impermissible” the E ...read more

Delhi HC strikes down ESIC’s fraudulent move to create, sell medical institutions

Balaraj Jadhav and Ors. Vs. Union of India and Ors W.P.(C) No. 11837 of 2015
Disposed off

Using the Law for Public Health

Editor: Augustine Veliath. Coordination: Sanjai Sharma. ...read more

HRLN files petition seeking action against alarming number of children dying from malnutrition in MP

Shriprakash Singh Nimraje vs State of MP & Ors Several children have died of malnutrition-related ailments in Madhya ...read more

Fact findings on Public Health Centres in South West Khasi Hills, Shillong

Please find the Fact Finding Report attached. Public Health Centres in South West Khasi hills Districts of Meghalay ...read more

Fact finding report on Public Heath Centres in Meghalaya

Please find the Fact finding report attached. Rambrai Public health centre In West West Khasi Hills District of Me ...read more

Fact finding on Public Health Centres in Shillong, Meghlaya

Please find the Fact Finding Report attached. Public Health Centres in Ri-Bhoi and East Khasi hills Districts of ...read more

Covid Hospitals cannot arbitrary deny use of mobile phones

WP 5416 of 2020: Jaimin Rajani Versus The State of West Bengal
Disposed