Need policy for treating poor: HC

The court of Justice Manmohan said if the government failed to formulate a policy, the court will have to step in.

Delhi | Updated: March 21, 2014 11:34 am

The Delhi High Court on Thursday said the Delhi Health department should consider allowing direct donations to “special accounts” at government hospitals to provide treatment to poor patients or those suffering from rare and expensive-to-treat diseases.

The court of Justice Manmohan said if the government failed to formulate a policy, the court will have to step in.

He said this while hearing two pleas by persons suffering from rare life-threatening diseases seeking government aid for their treatment.

One was filed by a rickshaw puller, the father of a seven-year-old boy who suffers from a rare enzyme disorder named Gaucher’s disease. The treatment for this disease costs over Rs 12 lakh per month. The second plea was filed by a 35-year-old haemophilia patient, who requires constant blood transfusions and medication, costing up to Rs 1 lakh per day.

While the child had been given two free dosages at Medanta Hospital, the haemophilia patient is being treated at LN hospital, where part of the treatment is free.

During an earlier hearing, the court had directed the government to create a funding policy for treatment of rare diseases to “protect the Constitutional rights” of patients.

On Thursday, the court suggested that hospitals be allowed to create accounts for donations, managed by the director of the hospital concerned. “Set up an account and let it be used by the doctor concerned who knows how and where to spend the money.

The account can be subject to a CAG audit, but give him the discretion to spend it to treat patients,” the court said.

The Principal Secretary (Health) on Thursday said the government will consider the court’s suggestion. He also informed the court that such a fund required “huge donations”.

“We should not stop trying over quantum of cost of treatment. No person can bleed to death when treatment is well-known. We are not asking you to experiment. There is a well-known treatment… If you do not have funds, then budget has to be increased. Please ask for more funds… State will have to get the resources… How you create the funds, I don’t know. But you have to do it,” the judge said.

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