Updated: May 18, 2021 7:31:02 am
The Allahabad High Court Monday observed that the “entire medical system” of Uttar Pradesh “pertaining to the smaller cities and villages can only be taken to be like a famous Hindi saying, Ram Bharose (at the mercy of God)”.
The court made the observation over the matter of a 64-year-old patient, Santosh Kumar, who was reported “missing” from Meerut District Hospital on April 21 by relatives as his body was disposed of by authorities as unidentified. A report was submitted to the court by the government on an inquiry made by a three-member team.
During the hearing, over a PIL on the Covid situation in Uttar Pradesh, the court took into account submissions by the government over health infrastructure in districts, remarking that these were inadequate, and warned of a third wave. The Bench of Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar also asked why the government was not making vaccines on a large scale.
Speaking to a group of reporters on Sunday, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had said the situation in Uttar Pradesh was not “out of control”, and that UP was prepared for a third wave if it comes. He also spoke about dispatching test kits and medical kits to villages, training personnel, and transparency in testing and deaths, and claimed that the state had adequate infrastructure, well prepared to fight off the pandemic.
The court had earlier sought a report in the case of Kumar. As the facts were placed before it Monday, the court called it a case of “high degree carelessness”. “… if the doctors and paramedical staff adopt such casual approach and show carelessness in the performance of their duty, then it is… something like playing with the lives of innocent people,” it observed.
The Bench asked the state government take stern action against those responsible, “maybe they are the highest in the ranks”, and to compensate Kumar’s dependents for “the irreparable loss”.
The inquiry report, submitted by the government, showed that Kumar fainted in the hospital washroom on April 21 night. The resident doctor said the night duty doctor was not present. Kumar could not be revived despite efforts, and by the time he was declared dead, a morning team had arrived.
The inquiry showed that a doctor who had been on duty when Kumar was admitted to hospital was the one who got his body removed. Following it, the hospital said it could not identify him despite all efforts, failing to even trace Kumar’s file.
“If this is the state of affairs of treatment at a medical college in a city like Meerut,” the High Court said, “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 observed that the past few months had shown that “the manner it (medical infrastructure) stands today, it is very delicate, fragile and debilitated”. “When it cannot meet the medical requirements of our people in normal times, then it definitely had to collapse in the face of the present pandemic,” it said.
Taking on record details of the health infrastructure in five districts submitted by the state government, the court said it has “no hesitation in observing that health infrastructure is absolutely insufficient in city areas to meet the requirement of city population and in the rural areas the Community Health Centres are virtually lacking in respect of life-saving gadgets”.
The judges added, “One can guess where we are leading people of this state to, i.e. third wave of the pandemic”. Asking the government to increase testing, it added, “… if we fail to identify a Covid infected person at the earliest, we are definitely inviting a third wave”.
On vaccines, the High Court said “one cannot understand as to why the government of ours which is a welfare state is not trying to manufacture the vaccine itself on a large scale”. Noting that several vaccine-producing countries had agreed to the waiver of intellectual property protection, it said, “our central agencies may give the green signal to various manufacturers who have the infrastructure to manufacture the vaccines on a large scale”.
It took up Bijnor as a “test case” among the five districts for which the state government submitted details. It noted that there was no Level 3 hospital in Bijnor urban areas, while its three government hospitals had only 150 beds, five BiPAP machines and two cannulas for High Flow Nasal Oxygen. Similarly, in the rural tehsils, the court said, “there are only 10 Community Health Centres, so one health centre has a load of 3 lakh people and against 3 lakh people (there are) only 30 beds… There is no BiPAP machine or High Flow Nasal Oxygen cannula.”
The court also asked the state government to improve facilities at medical colleges in Prayagraj, Agra, Meerut, Kanpur and Gorakhpur within four months; to provide B- and C-Grade towns of the state at least 20 ambulances; every village two ambulances with Intensive Care Unit facilities; oxygen facilities at all nursing home beds; an oxygen plant at nursing homes with more than 30 beds; and more ICU beds at all nursing homes and hospitals.
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