Before talking about why we need to have health as a fundamental right it becomes important to know what is the meaning of health as well as fundamental rights. First let’s talk about meaning of health, the famous Merriam Webster dictionary defines word health as the condition of being sound in body, mind, or spirit especially freedom from physical disease or pain or to have a more wider look at meaning of health we can also consider the definition give by WHO (World Health Organisation). It defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Now let’s talk about fundamental rights ,they are the basic human rights enshrined in the Constitution of India that are guaranteed to all citizens. They are applied without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, etc. These rights are extremely important because a person can directly approach the Supreme Court or the High Court of a state if he feels any of his fundamental rights are violated.
In Bandhua Mukti Morcha vs Union Of India & Others the court interpreted the right to health under Article 21 which guarantees the right to life. Also in State of Punjab & Ors v Ram Lubhaya Bagga, it was held that it is the State’s responsibility to maintain health services. Most importantly in State of Punjab & Ors v Mohinder Singh Chawla the supreme court held that the right to health is fundamental to the right to life and should be put on record that the government had a constitutional obligation to provide health services. Further in Paschim Banga Khet Mazoor Samity v. State of West Bengal, the scope of Article 21 the court held that it is the responsibility of the Government to provide adequate medical aid to every person and to strive for the welfare of the public at large.
Even the Directive Principles of State Policy that is given in Part IV of the India Constitution provides a basis for the right to health. Article 47 says that it’s the duty of the state to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health, further Article 39 (E) directs the State to secure health of workers and even Article 42 directs the State to just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief. Through Directive Principles of State Policy are not legally enforceable but they provide basic principles or instructions or guidelines for the government while formulating laws or policies of the country and in executing them. Even in Bandhua Mukti Morcha vs Union Of India & Others the apex court held that although the Directive Principles of State Policy are not binding obligations but hold only persuasive value, yet they should be duly implemented by the State. Further, the Court held that dignity and health fall within the ambit of life and liberty under Article 21.
During the time of pandemic the importance of having a robust health system that is easily accessible to all the people is clearly evident. It is essential to ensure that access to healthcare facilities is available to everyone irrespective of their economic or social conditions. Spending on health care should not be seen as an expense but it should be seen as an investment because the better the health condition of the population is the more productive they are. This means if the health of an individual is good then only he will be able to perform his tasks in an efficient manner and will be able to contribute toward the development of the nation.
In India it is a harsh reality that every citizen does not have adequate access to healthcare facilities. The healthcare facility which should be accessible to all is restricted in the hands of people and is out of reach of a big part of the population. India being a welfare state holds a duty to provide healthcare to all its citizens . At last good health is essential to enjoy all other benefits that we as a democratic nation give to our citizens. Right to health is fundamental for ensuring that we have a good health infrastructure for dealing with future pandemic because when right to health will become a fundamental right then the government will be bound to increase its expenditure on health related issues and increase health related infrastructure by doing so we will be able to ensure a better and well prepared response to future pandemic too.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
If you are interested in participating in the same, do let me know.
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