SONGSOPTOK: Do you consider primary healthcare to be a fundamental right? Is it deemed as such in the society you live in? Please explain your answer with a few examples if possible.

NUPUR LAHIRI: Yes. I consider primary healthcare should be a fundamental right in any society. Although it is not the U.S. the society I now live in. As a physician I have seen time after time a critically ill patient is denied of emergencycare because of lack of health insurance.

SONGSOPTOK: What is the system of healthcare in the country and the society you live in? Is it a just and equitable system in the sense that all citizens enjoy the same benefits across economic and social classes?

NUPUR LAHIRI:  The healthcare system in the U.S is fractionated and only available to the privileged few and depends on the insurance plan one can afford at the time. It is not just and equitable as the unemployed, disabled and the elderly get marginal health care services.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that free healthcare cannot be a right, but it can be a privilege and a shared burden of sacrifice for the sake of the social contract?

NUPUR LAHIRI: Free health care should be a fundamental right and the burden of sharing falls on the superior powers such as the larger economic forces that includes the government.

SONGSOPTOK: What, in your opinion, should be the role of the government for ensuring equal healthcare to all citizens? What role is played by the government of the country you live in?

NUPUR LAHIRI:  The government is responsible for ensuring equal healthcare to all citizens as well as the larger economic forces that constitutes the government, such as corporate industries that actually dictates the governmental policies.

SONGSOPTOK: According to the data published by World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 16 000 children under the age of 5 die every day in the world (5.9 million in 2015) from infectious, neonatal or nutritional conditions. Is this a reality in the country you live in? If so, what would your suggestions of improvement be?

NUPUR LAHIRI: All children should have essential health and preventive services irrespective of their place in the society and it is not areality in the U.S.

SONGSOPTOK: “Free access to healthcare is a fundamental human right. Access to free healthcare is not” – do you agree with this statement? Please explain your choice.

NUPUR LAHIRI: Access to free health care does not solve the problem as free healthcare, so called charity care is marginal, substandard and sometimes causes more harm than good to the unfortunate.

SONGSOPTOK: How important is the role of the private sector for providing healthcare and related facilities in your country? What it is your opinion about it?

NUPUR LAHIRI:  Private corporate  sector is not active in creating health related services and in my opinion these organizations should be mandated to provide public health services and share the burden of equitable access to superior heath care for all concerned as the society makes it possible for the corporate sector to secure the profits.

SONGSOPTOK: Are charitable and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) active in the domain of public health? If yes, then in what spheres? Do you think that the civil society, either independently or through these organizations, should become the prime actor for ensuring healthcare for all?

NUPUR LAHIRI:  Some of the charitable organizations are active and trying to raise money for research and development such as American Heart Association and so on. It is not the responsibility of the charitable organizations or the NGOs to ensure health care for all as their existence depends on charity funds that come from large private businesses.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that multinational pharmaceutical and healthcare companies are responsible, to a certain extent, for the widely variable quality of healthcare in different countries? Can you please illustrate your reply with some examples?

NUPUR LAHIRI:  Yes. That is right. The quality of pharm products vary from one rich country to the other poor country so does the quality of services.

SONGSOPTOK: Do you think that adopting the Social Security model implemented in a lot of countries in Europe which ensures primary health coverage to all citizens and is financed by the totality of the working population can be relevant and efficient in all countries?

NUPUR LAHIRI:  Some form of Social Security model may be the solution but the financing need to be shared by commercial, business, private corporations and not just the working population.

NUPUR LAHIRI:  A physician specialized in the field of Psychiatry and Neurology, practicing in greater Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.A. She has been involved in academic teaching, public speaking and writing on the issues that affect wellbeing of the general population.

We sincerely thank you for your time and hope we shall have your continued support.
Aparajita Sen

(Editor: Songsoptok)


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