Allahabad High Court: Following the order given on 11th May by the Court which had directed that Pandemic Public Grievance Committee should be formed in each district, the Court noted that the government had filed an affidavit stating they had passed directions to form a committee in each district on 13th May, 2021.
As no guidelines were given by the state on how such committees would function the Court ordered that the Committee along with the District Nodal Officer who is appointed in every district by the State Government shall ensure that each and every grievance stands redressed within 24-48 hours. The Court also enlarged the scope of the Committee to look into the complaints of supply of oxygen to those who are in home isolation, the private hospitals and nursing homes of the district concerned.
Health Infrastructure of five districts
In the order dated 11th May, the Court had ordered district magistrates to submit data on health infrastructure in their districts. On perusal of the data, the Court had no hesitancy in stating that the infrastructure was lacking in urban areas to meet the needs of the city population and life saving gadgets were scarce in rural community health centres. Level 3 hospitals were lacking in most districts.
Taking the sample case of Bijnor, both in terms of health infrastructure and testing, the Court ordered the State Government to immediately improve and increase the testing methods of the rural population and the population of small cities and towns and also provide sufficient health care infrastructure.
Court observes State’s Health System is “Ram Bharose”
Taking the case of one (Late) Mr Santosh Kumar, 64, who was admitted in an isolation ward in Medical College, Meerut on 21st April. On 22nd April, he went to the washroom and fainted there. He was brought out and laid on a stretcher. Efforts were made to revive him but unfortunately he passed away. The doctor who admitted him in the hospital was the same doctor on duty that night, however neither that doctor and none of the other hospital staff could recognize the patient and his body was disposed of as an unidentified body. On this incident, the Court observed that
‘If this is the state of affairs of treatment at medical College in the city like Meerut then the entire medical system of the State pertaining to the smaller cities and villages can only be taken to be like a famous Hindi saying ‘Ram Bharose’
The Court further observed that:
‘A patient is admitted to the hospital in an absolute care of doctors and paramedical staff and if the doctors and para medical staff adopt such casual approach and show carelessness in the performance of their duty, then it is a case of serious misconduct because it is something like playing with the lives of innocent people’
Court emphasised on need to vaccinate each person in the state and improve health infrastructure
The Court gave the following suggestions to the state to improve vaccination rate in the state
- Those who would like to buy vaccines for the ‘have-nots’ should be allowed to do so and given benefit under the IT Act.
- Big business house who donate to religious organisations should be asked to divert fund for vaccines.
- Incentives should be given to local manufacturers who have the infrastructure to produce such vaccines.
- Big medical companies and even the government should produce vaccines on a large scale.
The Court observing that when it [health infrastructure of the state] cannot meet the medical requirements of our people in normal times then it definitely had to collapse in the face of the present pandemic, gave various suggestions for improving the health infrastructure of the state such as:
- All nursing homes should have an oxygen facility on each bed.
- Nursing homes/hospitals having more than 20 beds should have 40% beds reserved for ICU.
- Of the designated 40 per cent; 25 percent should have ventilators, 25 percent should have High Flow Nasal Cannula and 50 per cent of the 40 per cent reserved beds should have bipap machines
- Every hospital with more than 30 beds should have an oxygen production plant
- Medical colleges in Prayagraj, Agra, Meerut, Kanpur and Gorakhpur should have enhanced facilities as are there with the prestigious Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute within a period of four months. Emergency laws should be applied for the acquisition of land for them, autonomy and funds should be given to them to achieve the same.
- Community health centres in villages should have pathology services at par with Level 2 hospitals
- Every B and C grade town in the state should have 20 ambulances each and every village should have 2 ambulances with ICU facilities.
The Court stated that the viability of following the suggestions may be looked into at the highest level and a report should be submitted on the next date by the Health Secretary of both the Centre and the State. The Court directed appointment Nodal Officers by the District Judges of districts Bijnor, Bahraich, Barabanki, Shrawasti, Jaunpur, Mainpuri, Mau, Aligarh, Etah, Etawah, Firozabad and Deoria and asked them to submit a report in a week’s time. The date of next hearing was set at 22nd May, 2022.
[In-Re Inhuman Condition At Quarantine Centres And For Providing Better Treatment To Corona Positive, Public Interest Litigation No. 574 of 2020, decided on 17-05-2021].