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'Question Of Saving Lives Of Critical Patients': P & H HC Asks Centre To Reconsider Ban On Import Of Used Ventilators [Read Order]

Mehal Jain
6 Aug 2020 3:19 AM GMT
Question Of Saving Lives Of Critical Patients: P & H HC Asks Centre To Reconsider Ban On Import Of Used Ventilators [Read Order]
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Amidst the COVID pandemic, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday asked the Centre to examine whether the use of imported refurbished ventilators can be permitted, suggesting a reconsideration of the ban on import of used ventilators.

"We prima facie feel that in case, the aforesaid ventilators are put to use, it may be of help to some serious patients", opined Justices Rajan Gupta and Karamjit Singh.
 At the previous hearing, the bench was informed that the import of used critical care equipment has been prohibited inter alia due to the following reasons:-
a. Ensuring quality control: Used critical care equipment can be sold as refurbished without being actually assessed in terms of quality, safety and effectiveness. Moreover, there could also be issues regarding repair, maintenance, availability of spare parts and compatibility with older versions of equipment.
b. Major risk to patients: Considering that critical care equipment are mainly used in Intensive Care Units (ICUs), there is a legitimate risk that the equipment could endanger the lives of patients in critical conditions who require intensive care. The used critical care equipment could also act as a possible source of hospital acquired infection which may come along with the equipment.
Further wear and tear or in-orderly functioning of such equipment could be life threatening to patients in the ICUs.
c. Discourage local manufacturing and use of locally produced used equipment: It may be noted that medical electronics is one of the nine sub sector working groups under the electronic system sector in 'Make in India'. Importing critical care equipment can disincentivize local manufacturers of critical care equipment and can also cause competition with usage of domestic used critical care equipment in the health industry.
d. Generation of E-waste at a faster pace: Since the working life of second hand/used equipment will certainly be lesser than new equipment, the used equipment will reach end-of-life at a faster pace contributing to the electrical and electronic waste (e-waste) generation in the country. Ensuring environmentally sound management of e-waste is already a major concern which could get exacerbated if imports of used critical care equipment are allowed.
However, the division bench had sought the independent opinion of an expert to ascertain whether the ventilators imported from another country would be hazardous for use in the hospitals in India.
On Tuesday, the bench took note of the report that ventilators of reputed brands and found to be in working condition may be put to use subject to clarification of disinfection, effectiveness and assured maintenance by the refurbishing company.
Accordingly, the bench required a copy of the report be supplied to the ASG for the UOI to enable him to seek instructions, particularly, "keeping in view the matter involves the question of saving lives of critical patients".
The bench also called for details as to which authority can certify regarding disinfection and effectiveness. Meanwhile, the bench also asked the refurbishing company to submit a certificate of disinfection, their effectiveness and assured maintenance as regards the 32 ventilators imported by the petitioner-firm, to the Director, Department of Medical Education and Research, Government of Punjab.

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