The Constitution of India makes it mandatory on every state to provide health care to its citizens. It has been held that the right to health is integral to the Right to Life and the government has a constitutional obligation to provide health facilities. On paper, the state government unit CIDCO has done its duty by allotting plots for affordable medical services to the poor but in reality; these very plots are misusing and abusing the right of citizens to health care. We are speaking about MGM and Fortis – two medical giants that are commercially exploiting plots meant to deliver affordable medical services to the poor. On Weekend Exclusive today, we find out the answer to “Are plots meant for providing affordable medical services being commercially exploited by greedy medical giants?” There is a lot of shout and scream about India being a super power and that we are not a rising power but we have already risen. Unfortunately none of this stands true as far as health care rights for citizens is concerned. In this sector we are still a very backward entity. Unlike countries around the globe where health is given prime focus; in India citizens are deprived of basic medical services at affordable rates. The worst examples of this deprivation can be seen in the so-called city of the 21st century – Navi Mumbai itself where two prime plots have been given at meager rates to provide affordable medical services to citizens, especially the poor but as of today greedy medical giants MGM and Fortis are commercially exploiting these plots. Let’s first take a look at how MGM Hospital at Vashi is churning huge profits out of one such plot. It was a PIL by social activist Sandeep Thakur that exposed the ugly face of the MGM Hospital. It showed how the plot where the MGM Hospital stands today was first a public hospital built by CIDCO in the 1970s. A few years after constructing the hospital, CIDCO invited Jijamata Trust – a NGO to run the hospital. From the date of the agreement with CIDCO in 1970’s till 1990, the Jijamata Trust managed to run the hospital as per their agreement with CIDCO. In 1990, when Jijamata Trust reportedly raised its hands from running the hospital, the MGM Trust came forward to take over. A tri party agreement was signed between CIDCO, MGM Trust and Jijamata Trust on 6th February 1990 wherein it was agreed to hand over the hospital to the MGM Trust on the same clauses as were applicable to Jijamata Trust. These clauses included that : * MGM would run the hospital on no profit no loss – NO PROFIT NO LOSS * 30 beds would be used to give free of cost medical services to the needy – 30 BEDS WITH FREE MEDICAL SERVICES FOR THE NEEDY * 10 beds would be reserved for CIDCO employees – 10 BEDS FOR CIDCO EMPLOYEES * And the out patients will be charged not more than the charges of medical services in municipal hospitals – CIVIC HOSPITAL RATES FOR OUT PATIENTS * 25% of the total beds of the hospital would be run on concessional rates as decided by CIDCO. However for 20 years in complete violation of the agreement with CIDCO, MGM Hospital managed by the influential political family of the Kadams has been commercially running the hospital for profits. The hospital has no authentic record of the poor treated here on concessional rates. In fact, it was Sandeep Thakur who exposed greed of the hospital for making profits. Even the Charity Commissioner’s office has taken no action against MGM Hospital. It’s not difficult to understand why CIDCO and Charity Commissioner’s office are not taking action against MGM. The other greedy medical giant that is exploiting a public plot for medical services to the poor is Fortis. In the name of providing affordable super specialty services, NMMC gave away more than half of the poor man’s hospital at Vashi to Hiranandani Health Care Pvt. Ltd owned by Fortis. But this agreement was in complete violation of the agreement between CIDCO and NMMC. When CIDCO gave NMMC the plot to build the public hospital, it was stated in the agreement that 100% of the plot would be run on charitable basis but today more than half the plot is being commercially exploited by Fortis. In fact, in the Fortis hospital case, the poor and tax-paying citizens of the city have been taken for a ride. NMMC’s attempt to favour Fortis is also evident in the meager 1% increase every year on the rent for the 49 years lease period that will make the rent received a pittance while CIDCO continues to favour MGM. MGM and Fortis are just two of the greedy medical giants that are unethically abusing the noble profession of doctors for profits. Perhaps, the reason why authorities do not act on greedy medical giants MGM and Fortis for commercially exploiting plots for affordable medical services to the poor is that moral values, ethics and principles have eroded from the system. No matter what the President of US has to say about India or how much the Prime Minister of the nation boasts of economic growth, the reality is that more than 50% of the people in India cannot afford basic medical services. Even in the 21st century city Navi Mumbai, it’s unfortunate that the greedy medical giants like MGM and Fortis have tainted the noble profession of doctors by snatching the medical rights of the poor for their own profits. Will the conscience of these greedy medical giants ever awaken? With cameraperson VInayak Dalvi, Sana Warsia for NMTV News.
September 23, 2009