The Karnataka High Court has directed the State Government to place on record its policy decision to provide police protection to doctors, nurses, paramedical staff and Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers. State has also been directed to ensure that no nurses, paramedical staff or ASHA workers are deprived of their salaries.
A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice B V Nagarathna said "It must be clarified whether the State has any policy to provide armed police constables for protection of all the health workers. The State will also have to place on record what steps it proposes to take to prevent such incidents. The reason is that the safety of the doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, ASHA workers, etc. is of paramount importance in the battle against Covid-19. The State must come out with the policy which applies across the State for protecting this class of citizens who are on the forefront in the battle against Covid-19."
The direction was given during the hearing of the petition filed by Dr Rajeev Ramesh Gothe which highlights the need for safety of health workers. The court was informed about the incident which occurred in the night on April 19, at Padarayanapura in Bengaluru. It is reported that the persons who were sought to be quarantined attacked the health workers, including the doctors as well as the Police. To which the bench directed the state government to place on record the action taken against the wrong doers. Also, place on record a policy decision taken regarding providing adequate protection to the doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, ASHA workers, etc."
As regards to grievances made about non-availability of mask and PPE kits, to grass root level health workers by the counsel appearing for Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA). The bench said "The State Government has to respond on the question whether the PPE Kits can be made available at a cost to private hospitals and to private clinics. Whether PPE kits have reached the doctors and the nursing staff across the state and whether equipment like masks and hand-gloves are made available across the state to health care facilities, such as Primary Health Centers (PHCs) and other facilities at grass-roots level." The response has to be filed on the next date of hearing April 28.
Advocate S Basvaraj who has filed an intervention application pointed out that on Government E-Marketplace (GEM) Portal provided by the Central Government, private doctors and private health workers cannot register themselves for procurement of PPE kits and other equipment.
To which the Additional Solicitor General, appearing for Union Government said that the Central Government has recently distributed 2,83,910 PPE Kits and about 20 lakhs N-95 Masks to various States. However, he sought time to seek instruction on whether private health workers and doctors can register on the portal.