Assam became the country’s first state to guarantee all its citizens the right to healthcare by passing the Assam Public Health Bill, 2010 on Wednesday.
The new law makes it mandatory for all government and private nursing homes and hospitals to provide free healthcare to an emergency patient of any kind for the first 24 hours.
“This Act is the first step in India towards making healthcare a fundamental right and we hope it will revolutionise our health sector,” said state Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. “Rules would be framed to define an emergency under the legislation,” he said.
The Act says patients who cannot afford treatment in a private hospital can later be shifted to a government hospital after getting immediate necessary treatment for the first 24 hours -- very crucial in saving lives.
The Act also prescribes remedial measures in case a patient fails to receive attention in a government hospital or health establishment because of the absence of doctors or any other medical staff. Such patients would be entitled to monetary compensation.
Other salient features of the Act include every patient having the right to be provided his or her complete medical records of at least two years maintained by the hospitals and nursing homes.