The Patna High Court on Monday (May 3) observed that in the absence of an action plan, the healthcare system in Bihar qua COVID-19 appeared to be moving aimlessly.
The bench of Justice Chakradhari Sharan Singh and Justice Mohit Kumar Shah was hearing the suo motu case concerning reported deficient healthcare facilities in the State to meet the challenges posed by the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic.
Shortage of Beds, Oxygen, and Manpower
Interacting with Director, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), Patna, the Court came to know that there was serious manpower issue in the hospital and only 300 beds were available for COVID patients inclusive of 60 ICU beds.
It was pointed out by the Director that the hospital has not been able to admit more patients because of irregular/ short supply of oxygen and unavailability of adequate manpower.
The Situation in respect of ESIC, Hospital Bihta, in the Court's opinion, was even worse. Squadron Leader (Dr.) Wansi informed the Court that the doctors and other staff deputed by the Armed Forces to treat COVID patients in the said hospital were facing lot of problems because of non-supply of medicines and absence of management and that they appeared to be virtually sitting idle in the said hospital.
"No Action Plan"
Further, the Court noted that when the matter was taken up on 15th April 2021, the Court had directed the State Government to prepare a comprehensive action plan to fight the upsurge of COVID-19 cases in its second wave.
Therefore, the Court noted,
"In the absence of an action plan, the healthcare system qua COVID-19 appears to be moving aimlessly."
Further, the Court also took note of black-marketing of some essential drugs including oxygen in the State of Bihar in a situation where the State is facing an unprecedented challenge on account of the pandemic.
Further, the Court perused a report filed by Mrigank Mauli, Amicus Curiae, the Court noted,
"There is no gainsaying that the Health Department of the State is operating to meet the mammoth challenge without the aid of experts in the respective fields, having a better understanding of the crisis and management thereof."
The Court also expressed concerns about the slow pace of reporting of RT-PCR test and asked the State Government to inform it about the development in this regard.
The Court was also informed that the COVID Hospitals are not admitting patients in the absence of RT-PCR test reports.
To this, the Court said,
"The Court is of the view that the department, with the help of the experts in this regard, should immediately take a decision as to whether HRCT Chest Scan report should also be a basis for considering a person suffering from COVID-19 to be admitted in a COVID hospital."
Case Title: Shivani Kaushik v. Union of India & Ors.