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PHM India: Over 2000 participate in mass protest at Mumbai on Food security and Health rights issues

Date: 
26 Mar 2013

Anna Adhikar Abhiyan (Right to Food campaign, Maharashtra) and Jan Arogya Abhiyan (People’s Health Movement – Maharashtra) jointly organized a state level Dharana Andolan on 22nd March, 2013 at Azad Maidan, Mumbai, to press for urgent action on important policy demands regarding Health services and Food security in Maharashtra. Over 2000  people from Mumbai, Thane, Raigad, Pune, Kolhapur, Sangli, Nandurbar, Beed, Amaravati, Gadchiroli districts across various parts of the state participated in this Dharana Andolan to demand prompt action on demands like ‘No cash  transfer instead of PDS’ and need for a Maharashtra state act to regulate private hospitals.

Mass organisations of adivasi and rural people such as Kashtakari Sanghatana, Sarvahara Jan Andolan, Shramik Mukti Sanghatana, Jagrut Kashtakari Sanghatana and Shramik Kranti Sanghatana were in the forefront of mobilisation for this protest. Representatives from various political parties in the state visited the Dharana site and put forward their party positions on the demands being raised regarding Food security and Health related policy issues. Positive interventions supporting the demands were made by an MLA belonging to Peasants and Workers Party (Shetkari Kamgar Paksha) and representatives of CPI(M), Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh and Lal Nishan Party (Leninwadi).

 

Major demands on Health issues included-

  • I. Adopt a state specific ‘Maharashtra Clinical Establishments Act’ to regulate private hospitals, with inclusion of provisions for participatory regulation and Patient’s rights.
  • II. Stop privatisation of Radiological services in Medical college and District hospitals!
  • III. Ensure adequate provision of essential medicines in all public health facilities by implementing the ‘Tamil Nadu model’ in comprehensive manner at earliest
  • IV. Government should strictly and effectively implement the ban on private practice by Public doctors, and should not dilute this order in any manner.

 

Major Food security related demands were-

  • A. Stop Cash Transfers as an alternative to the Pulic Distribution System.
  • B. Do not pass a Food Security Act that will in reality dismantle the Public Distribution System. Pass an effective Food Security Act that will ensure that no one remains hungry.
  • C. Reform, Universalise and Strengthen the Public Distribution System.
  • D. Fourteen essential items and millets must be distributed through the PDS
  • E. Every ration card holder should be eligible to obtain twelve subsidised gas cylinders per year.
  • F. Stop the entry of foreign companies in retail trade


This large scale mobilisation of people coming from far flung hamlets and villages across the state, organised by the Right to Food campaign and Jan Arogya Abhiyan (JSA – Maharashtra) reflects growing discontent related to the dysfunctional PDS system, continued problems related to the public health system (such as serious shortage of essential medicines), and major exploitation of patients in private hospitals. The ‘solutions’ being offered by the Government such as cash transfer instead of subsidised foodgrains and privatisation of public health services, will further weaken the already dysfunctional PDS and Public health systems. Many of these demands have been raised earlier with the State government, which has not taken any effective action on the range of issues that are in its power to address.

 

Given the increasingly regressive policies being observed at both state and national levels, as well as elections coming up in Maharashtra as well as at national level next year, it was decided to continue to raise these demands through political processes, while carrying forward the mass campaigns on these issues. Given the positive experience of joint mobilisation by the Right to food campaign and Jan Arogya Abhiyan, it was decided to continue joint follow up with
political representatives and to discuss further strategies in a joint meeting in early May.

 

The main banner for the programme carried the following slogans:

  •  Food security and Health care is everyone’s right!
  •  Strengthen the Rationing system and Public health system!
  •  Do not wind up or privatise public services!
  •  Ensure social control of PDS and Health services (public as well as private)!

CLICK HERE for the full report in PDF incl pictures

 

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