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Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Consider increasing healthcare budget to cope with Covid: Bombay HC

"Covid-19 pandemic has taught us a lesson, serious thought be given to increase public health budget allocations for setting up modern facilities to cope with similar challenges ," the court said.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: June 13, 2020 1:52:32 pm
maharashtra coronavirus cases, mumbai coronavirus news, maharashtra coronavirus, latest update mumbai covid 19 Inside the Covid ward at Jalgaon hospital. (File/Express Photo by Tabassum Barnagarwala)

The Bombay High Court expressed concern over the rise in the number of Covid- 19 positive cases in Maharashtra and directed the State government to consider increasing its healthcare budget and expenditure and to give priority to emergencies while admitting patients.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice A A Sayed was hearing a batch of pleas filed by Mehrwan Farshed, Mutahhar Khan, NGO Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, Sarika Singh and Dayanand Stalin seeking relief for non-Covid patients, stating that they were being refused treatment in government as well as private hospitals, and this had led to deaths.

CJ Datta, who authored the 96-paged judgement suggested the authorities, “now that COVID-19 has taught a good lesson, the desirability of increasing the budgetary allocation for public health and care for setting up more modern facilities to cope up with similar such challenges may be given a serious thought.”

A batch of public interest pleas voiced grievances arising out of spread of Covid-19 infection including the facilities for non-Covid patients, testing labs in all districts, directions against private hospitals overcharging for Covid and non-Covid treatment and indiscriminate use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) by hospitals among others.

The CJ Datta-led bench had reserved its order earlier this month.

The pleas sought directions from the High Court to take action against hospitals and medical institutions refusing treatment and overcharging patients suffering from ailments other than Covid-19. They also sought from the state government to ensure adequate ambulance facilities to ferry patients suffering from Covid-19 as well as other medically compromised patients and, if required, state-run or private buses to be converted into ambulances.

The bench in its order said, “In this material world, tears and suffering may not cease to exist. The work to wipe tears and suffering has to go on. If indeed tears and suffering are to be wiped from those who are ailing of COVID-19 and related matters, the nation expects service, i.e. ‘seva’, from each one of its citizens. It does not take much to serve. COVID-19 has, in fair measure, shown us its calamitous effect on human health ~ physical and mental. Not only has it posed a grave threat to human life, it has also made imprisonment for all and sundry intelligible by forcing people to stay indoors and abide by social distancing norms.”

The Court on Friday observed the situation in the state in light of rise in Covid-19 positive cases and suggested the state use more funds to strengthen existing healthcare facilities and advised citizens to take more precautions to safeguard themselves from contracting coronavirus.

The Court observed that the current situation does not appear to be such that direction for deployment of CISF/CRPF or for installation of CCTV facilities is warranted.

The Court further suggested that although unavailability of beds is no excuse for refusing admission to patients, efforts shall be made to first admit those patients who genuinely deserve treatment and care in hospitals in preference to others who out of fear may seek admission but can wait.

The Court also said, “Endeavor to be made for drive for robust detection of positive cases, intensive contact tracing, aggressive testing, and extensive spread of information and awareness relating to norms to keep one safe for a better future.

“Develop wholesome strategy for dealing with all classes of patients, and balancing health care for COVID-19 patients and patients suffering from other diseases alike,” Court suggested authorities while disposing of batch of pleas.

Another petition was filed by a 58-year-old fisherman, Khalil Ahmad Hasanmiya Wasta, seeking proper testing facilities in Ratnagiri, a non-red zone, and other districts in the light of thousands of stranded migrant workers returning to the district from red zones, such as Mumbai and Pune.

Moreover, petitioners Charan Ravindra Bhatt and Prashant Thakur had filed pleas seeking accommodation in Mumbai for essential workers from Vasai, Palghar district and Panvel stating that people from these areas, involved in essential services, have tested positive since they travel to hotspots in Mumbai and it is becoming the main cause for the spread of Covid-19.

In a seperate order, the Court dismissed pleas by Bhatt and Thakur in view of lifting of relaxations on movement by state and observed, “The essential staffers, instead of being put to any disability because of their nature of work and also instead of being forced to reside in places away from their residences, should be encouraged to discharge their duty without fear of duress and restraint.

It added, “After all, these staffers have their own families and to ensure that none of their family members is infected, it is expected that they would themselves take the greatest care and act with caution so that they are free of the infection and do not transmit the same to their near and dear ones.”

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