About 33% of Muslims, 21% of Dalits, 22 % of Adivasis, and 15% of OBCs in India have experienced discrimination on the basis of their religion and caste in hospitals, according to a survey by NGO Oxfam India.
The survey also showed that 28% people from Karnataka, 24% from Gujarat, 21% people in Maharashtra, and 20% people in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan reported facing discrimination by healthcare professionals due to their language, which reflects on anti-migration sentiments of healthcare professionals
Over a third of women (35%) said that they had to undergo a physical examination by a male practitioner without another female present in the room, according to the survey findings.
A total of 3,890 people from 28 states and five Union Territories took part in the survey, the findings of which were released on Tuesday.
Oxfam India’s latest survey ‘Securing Rights of Patients in India’ provides a perspective on the plight of patients and citizens in the healthcare system.
In the survey, 30% of people said that they have been discriminated against due to an illness or health condition that they have, 12% people felt that they have been discriminated on grounds of religion, 13% people felt that they have been discriminated against due to their caste.
During the pandemic, according to the NGO, “marginalized communities like Dalits, Adivasis and religious minorities like Muslims faced new forms of violence, and discrimination in both public and private hospitals.”
In most states, there are no well-defined preventive and redressal mechanisms against these violations, the survey noted.
Health outcomes are consistently lower for Dalits, Adivasis, and Muslim minority communities, the study reveals.
The survey also mentions a study that explored religion-based discrimination in health facilities in Mumbai and showed that many Muslim women felt that there was a difference in the way the staff at the public health facilities spoke to them when compared to how they spoke to people belonging to their caste or religion.
The pandemic has further deepened the systemic islamophobia within-country”s health system, Oxfam India said.
“A series of events that happened in Nizamuddin with the gathering of people from the Muslim organisation Tablighi Jamaat, was given a communal turn. This further fuelled the Islamophobia which has become rampant in the country. Reports of hospitals refusing to admit Muslim patients became common,” read the survey report.
The findings of the survey, according to Oxfam India, are similar to those reported by the Human Rights Watch (HRW) published in 2001. The report said that people belonging to the Scheduled Castes are frequently denied admission in hospitals. Similarly, “Untouchability in Rural India” survey found that Dalit communities were denied entry into private health centres or clinics in 21% of villages.
Several reports have emerged on discrimination against transgender patients by the medical community, the survey noted.
Oxfam India also released a survey on various aspects of people’s experiences with the coronavirus vaccination process.
The survey sought disaggregated data on vaccination coverage based on social and economic groups including Dalits, Adivasis and Muslims, and Persons with Disabilities (PwD).