A plea was filed in the Bombay High Court seeking information regarding the availability of a medical facility for the treatment of Covid patients in Maharashtra. The petition of pro bono publico was filed by Sneha Nirav Marjadi. The matter was heard by Chief Justice DIPANKAR DATTA and Justice G. S. KULKARNI.
Four issues were raised by the petitioner which were as following-
i) Supply of Remdesivir
The said drug is an antiviral drug that is prescribed by doctors in order to reduce the need for oxygen in patients. The petitioner said that there is no mechanism by which the drug could be made available to the patients in need of it. The petitioner contended that the reason for the shortage of this drug is manifold, stocking, the shortfall in the quantity of manufacturing, and illegal hoarding. Dailing drug inspector's toll-free number which is being circulated in media proves to be of no use, submitted by the petitioner.
ii) Supply of oxygen-
Supply of Oxygen which is a lifeline for covid patients while treatment is falling short for all the hospitals of Maharashtra. The petitioner referred to the prescription of doctors asking relatives of patients to arrange oxygen cylinders for treatment. The petitioner submitted that patients are dying due to a shortage of oxygen in hospitals.
iii) Non-availability of beds-
One of the major problems everyone is facing in the state is the non-availability of beds for covid patients, even for patients who are critical and needs an urgent bed. The petitioner urged that a systematic mechanism like an online portal should be created which can provide details of the availability of beds across all hospital in the states which would create transparency and ease for patients to find beds.
iv) RT-PCR Test and Antigen test-
The petitioner contended that the report for the test of infection is delivered as late as 2-3 days which is very late considering the risk of spread of infection and is also deadly for the health of the patient as treatment gets delay because of the time taken in the report of the test.
The Counsel for BMC submitted that a meeting of official and manufacturer was held wherein the manufacturer assured that from next month the supply will be adequate. The Counsel explained the need for the drug and the system through which the drug is being supplied in the state and mentioned all the steps taken by the authorities to prevent the illegal practices related to the supply of drugs. The Counsel also submitted that the state has dedicated 100% oxygen supply for medical purpose and have also constituted a committee for ensuring that there is no wastage and leakage of oxygen. In regard to the availability of beds, the counsel submitted that Centralised Information is available on a division-wise dashboard and a helpline number is also made available at various levels in the state. The counsel submitted that the reasons for the delay in RT-PCR test result are the non-availability of trained staff and the time required for maintenance of machines.
The Court issued the following directions-
1. To make Remdesivir available to the relatives of the patients, hospitals, and through a nodal agent.
2. Consider granting permission to more laboratories for conducting RT-PCR tests.
3. Directed the state government to make a portal and helpline number for the availability of beds.
4. Directed the state government to take all measures to increase the supply of oxygen.
The court asked for the affidavits to be filed within one week and posted the matter to 4th May 2021.