Living will implementation lags in India

Syllabus: GS-II, Subject: Polity, Topic: Right issues, Issue: Living Will

Living Will:

  • Legal in India since 2018, allow terminally ill patients to withhold or withdraw treatment and die with dignity.

Key concerns in implementation:

  • Implementation of the Supreme Court’s process is scarce due to bureaucratic complexities and lack of state guidance.
  • Local governments lag in designating custodians for living wills.
  • Pending protocol from the National Health Authority hinders authentication through digital health records.
  • Treatment decisions require certification by medical boards, complicating patient autonomy.
  • Ambiguities in guidelines and lack of clear legal definitions contribute to officials’ reluctance to implement without detailed state directives.

The way ahead:

  • Central government can support states by developing and publishing model orders and protocols.
  • Effective guidance and persistent action from all levels of government are crucial for doctors to act in patients’ best interests.
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