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Centre's bid to protect Consumers' Rights

Centre's bid to protect Consumers' Rights


GUWAHATI, Jan 20


The Central Government has decided to set up a special redressal mechanism initiative to address the grievances related to consumers’ rights with special focus to health services and food safety in Assam. In this regard, an exclusive helpline number and a website will be launched soon by the Union Government.

This was informed by Bejon Misra, internationally acclaimed consumer rights activist and the founder-director of ‘Partnership for Safe Medicines India’ while talking to The Assam Tribune here today.
The decision assumes importance in the wake of increasing number of sub-standard edibles and other products being marketed and sold to consumers across the State.

Misra, who had a meeting with top Central Government officials in Guwahati on Tuesday, said that the Centre has assured to make the project operational within a year’s time and the State Government too has extended its support. Prominent citizens, including retired judges, bureaucrats and other professionals, will be involved in the initiative.

The project will be jointly developed and monitored by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, DoNER and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

“Along with Assam, other Northeastern States will also be covered. Complaints will be received in all local dialects of the region,” Misra added.

Misra, while maintaining that consumers’ awareness is very critical for a country’s development, said the “right to health” is one of the most neglected subjects.

Favouring the need to promote generic medicine, Misra said that doctors should be compelled to prescribe a second option of generic medicine with identical compositions so that the common man is not denied of treatment at affordable prices.

“It has become an uncanny trend to prescribe costly and branded medicines because of the profit involved. We must stop this trend by giving a choice of generic medicines to the patients. It is sad that 40 per cent of the Indian population are either taking loans or selling assets for medical treatment. Further, an increasing number of people are pushed below the poverty line due to the cost they incur for medical treatment, which is really unfortunate and a matter of worry,” Misra pointed out, adding, “The system is devoid of any provision of checks and balances”.

He also appealed the political parties in the State to include universal health coverage for all, irrespective of their social and financial backgrounds, in their election manifestos.
By SANJOY RAY