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Priority COVID Vaccination For Mentally Ill Patients: PIL Filed Before Patna High Court Seeks Directions To Govt

Sparsh Upadhyay
26 May 2021 11:27 AM GMT
Priority COVID Vaccination For Mentally Ill Patients: PIL Filed Before Patna High Court Seeks Directions To Govt
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A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition has been moved before the Patna High Court seeking vaccination to the people who have severe mental illness living in mental hospitals and those who stay at their homes with their caregiver on priority basis. The Petition has been moved by Akanksha Malviya through advocates Akash Keshav (AOR Patna High Court), Deepak Kumar Singh,...

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) petition has been moved before the Patna High Court seeking vaccination to the people who have severe mental illness living in mental hospitals and those who stay at their homes with their caregiver on priority basis.

The Petition has been moved by Akanksha Malviya through advocates Akash Keshav (AOR Patna High Court), Deepak Kumar Singh, Shashwat, Vishal Kumar Singh and it states that with the sudden appearance of the global pandemic like COVID-19, people have been facing a lot of mental health issues.

Averments in the plea

The plea contends that people with existing mental health conditions including severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorders; more prevalent mental health disorder such as depression, anxiety, and intellectual impairments or neurological development disorders constitute a vulnerable group in themselves.

The plea submits that a large percentage of the state's population does not have access to affordable and acceptable mental health care and treatment due to systematic gaps in planning and regulation making it a state that harbors negligent mental health provisions.

"The state's response is largely centered on physical health consequences and implications of COVID-19 leaving behind the concerns on mental health of its citizens," the plea adds.

The plea further argues that there is an urgent need to include persons with severe mental illness as a priority group for the administration of COVID-19 vaccine since by reason of their unique characteristics, they are incapable of maintaining social distancing and wearing masks and are incapable of understanding the current situation due to their illness.

Significantly, the plea argues:

"Persons with severe mental illness face three increased risks with devastating consequences: the risks of contracting COVID-19, developing severe symptoms from COVID-19 or dying from the disease, as well as having poorer health during and after the pandemic, whether or not they are infected with COVID-19."

The plea has also averred that the Bihar Government has categorically failed to provide for and meet the needs of the people with their rights as regards to mental health and that this is a gross violation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.

Prayers in the plea

  • Direct the Respondents to frame Policy to provide COVID-19 vaccination to Homeless Mentally Ill Persons wandering on streets.
  • Direct the Respondents to rehabilitate the homeless mentally ill persons in the state wandering in the streets during the situation of lockdown without any food or medicine as per the provision of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
  • Direct the Respondents to establish a legitimate and functional State Mental Health Authority in adherence with Section 45 and Section 55 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
  • Direct the Respondents to make a Mental Health Review Board in the State to ensure better and more accessible Mental Healthcare in the state amid the pandemic.
  • Direct the Respondents to establish mental healthcare institutions in every District across the State in accordance with the District Mental Healthcare Programme, 1996.
  • Direct the Respondents to publish the register of all mental health establishment in the State of Bihar on the internet in accordance with Section 55 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
  • Direct the Respondents to ensure the establishment and proper functioning of counseling centers and helpline number at district level to provide mental healthcare to those in need amid this pandemic.
  • Direct the Respondents to aware the people by providing authentic information on mental health and covid, address anxiety, stress, and depression by creating and accessing helplines and messages/videos to acknowledge them as normal and advise them to seek counseling support-through helplines, further to compile and publish all helplines and apps that are available- Governmental, Non-Governmental, Other Civil Society Initiated and Association Initiated to its citizen by running an awareness drive.
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