The Madhya Pradesh High Court on Monday directed the central government to consider importing medical oxygen and Remdesivir injections for treating COVID-19 infected patients, if necessary, to deal with the scarcity being faced by several states.
In a judgment vis a vis a clutch of petitions including a suo motu petition taken up in June 2020, the division bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and justice Atul Sreedharan said: “This (scarcity of medical oxygen) being a national calamity and countrywide problem, the central government should consider stepping in to arrange the oxygen firstly, by diverting the available stock of Liquid Medical Oxygen from the Steel Plants and other industries located in different parts of the country and secondly, if that is not sufficient, by importing the Oxygen.”
The order further said, “the central government should also consider to step in to ensure increase in the production of Remdesivir and till such time it is not done, it should consider procuring the Remdesivir by importing it so that by the time the peak of Coronavirus is reached, Oxygen and Remdesivir both remain available to the affected persons in sufficient quantity, to tide over the crisis.”
The High Court also came up with a slew of directions to the MP government, especially on making adequately available oxygen and life saving drugs like Remdesivir to the government and private hospitals of the state. Also, the court said that while the supply of drugs should be regulated, the process should be hassle-free enough to ensure that the supply reaches the medical facility within an hour of requisition.
Earlier, the division bench highlighted the point that right to good health has been included under the broad sweep of the right to life as enshrined under Article 21 of Constitution of India. “Health, besides being a fundamental right, is a basic human right, which no popular government can afford to negate,” the court observed.
“The right to health can be secured to the citizens only if the state provides adequate measures for their treatment, healthcare and takes their care by protecting them from calamities like Coronavirus,” the division bench said.
“Coronavirus, if not treated timely, may in certain cases prove a deadly disease, especially for those citizens who suffer from different kinds of morbidities and are elderly in age. This has had a catastrophic effect on the citizens of the country. It has befallen on the countrymen unpredictably more than a year ago. The right of the citizen to adequate healthcare emanates from the dignity and sanctity of the human life which belongs to all of them,” the court further observed.
The court further stated, “The core obligation of the state in securing the right to life to all its citizens is non-negotiable. Article 21 of the Constitution of India in this regard clearly casts a duty on the state to take whatever steps are necessary in securing such rights to access to health facilities to the citizens. It also includes an obligation on the state in ensuring access to all the citizens inflicted with disease of coronavirus with life saving means and drugs such as oxygen and Remdesivir in this case.”
The court then issued a list of directives to the state government. The highlights of them are as follows:
The state government shall ensure continuous and regular supply of oxygen and Remdesivir not only to all the government hospitals, city hospitals, district hospitals but also to the private hospitals/nursing homes, which may give indent of their requirement of oxygen as well as Remdesivir in advance.
--shall, if it has already not done so, consider immediately reactivating 262 hospitals Covid Care Centres (CCC), 62 Dedicated Covid Health Centre (DCHC) and 16 Dedicated Covid Hospital (DCH) as per the details furnished to the court
-- shall consider strengthening/augmenting all the district hospitals and city hospitals.. .. by providing them necessary equipment and the required quantity of oxygen, Remdesivir injections and other requisite medicines. Considering the spread of coronavirus patients to major cities like Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur and Gwalior where due to huge population the medical facilities are already under immense pressure, is dissuaded
-- shall, if it has not already notified the rates, fix the rates for being charged by the private hospitals/nursing homes and private pathological labs/diagnostic centres for treatment/tests… and should ensure that these rates are adhered to by them.
-- shall ensure displaying of data with regard to availability of normal beds, ICU beds and ventilators on its Sarthak portal (https://sarthak.nhmmp.gov.in) in all the hovernment hospitals and private hospitals/ nursing homes on real time basis
-- should require all the private hospitals/nursing homes, chemists/medical shops to display the rates of Remdesivir per vial, separately for generic and branded injections, and all of them should be mandated not to charge more than the prescribed rates
-- should give due publicity to the Toll Free Number 1075 (with the STD code number of respective districts) of its Covid Command and Control Centres so that the Covid patients and their family members/attendants having any grievance with any government or private hospital, may immediately lodge their complaint with such centres
-- should take steps to setup more number of electric crematoriums, in at-least big cities of the state, and get the electric crematoriums repaired, wherever they have gone out of order
-- should consider increasing the per day testing number of Covid infected persons for their early detection so as to prevent further spread of Coronavirus. Test reports should be provided to concerned patients positively within 36 hours from the time of collection of sample
-- all the hospitals whether government or private, shall not refuse to attend the patients suffering from other serious ailments and provide them timely treatment depending on the seriousness of the ailments.