New Delhi: The National Human Rights
Commission is mulling to come out with a draft legislation
that seeks to protect the rights of patients and ensure that
standard treatment is made available to everyone.
The Commission has also written to the Centre and state
governments with regard to the rise in the number of people
inflicted by silicosis, a respiratory disease caused by
breathing in silica dust, asking them to take steps to give
priority to such patients in all hospitals.
PC Sharma, member, NHRC, said the trend of patients
"surrendering themselves before doctors" should end and every
patient should have the right to know what kind of disease he
has been inflicted with and the kind of treatment needed.
"We have asked the Government for the need (for a
legislation). We are trying to make a draft with the help of
NGOs. We are of the opinion that at least there should be a
draft. Just as you can demand the right to education and
equality, one should get the right to health also," he told
"We want a legislation which says that the doctor should
tell the patient about his disease and other details. Now the
patient goes and surrenders himself before the doctor. There
are instances where doctors don`t listen to patients and just
give them some medicines," he said.
On silicosis, the NHRC member said all states have been
asked to take precautions under the Industries Act and make
sure that employees undergo periodic health check-up.
"We have also told the states that they should instruct
hospitals that such patients should be treated immediately.
Many hospitals don`t treat them by giving some reasons. This
should be stopped," he said.
Sharma said urgent attention has to be given for
development of infrastructure in hospitals in the country and
also expressed concerned over the "widespread" racket in sub-
He also said the NHRC wants the Centre to come out with an
Act on prevention of silicosis as the disease affects mostly
the poorer sections of the society.
Notices were sent to a number of states where deaths have
occurred due to the disease and only Rajasthan responded
positively by giving Rs three lakh to the families of the
victims of silicosis.
"Silicosis, hitherto, remains a neglected area. This is a
disease which is irreversible. Victims of this disease are
mostly migrants who are in search of jobs. Protection to them
is granted under labour laws, but these things are not
followed," he said.
He also claimed that in some cases state government
authorities refused to look into complaints of people
afflicted with the diseases because they were from the
"This is the most serious grievous violation of human
rights," he said.
Sharma said the NHRC is also concerned about the lack of
doctors in the field of mental health and asked the MCI to add
mental health as part of curriculum for MBBS students.
He also said this disease cannot be cured only medically
but also needed proper care by families.