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United Nurses Association Move Supreme Court For Formulation Of National COVID19 Management Protocol [Read Petition]

Akshita Saxena
5 April 2020 1:47 PM GMT
United Nurses Association Move Supreme Court For Formulation Of National COVID19 Management Protocol [Read Petition]
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The United Nurses Association (UNA) has moved the Supreme Court pressing the issues being faced by the health care workers including the nurses and para-medical staffs working at the frontline to treat COVID-19 patients.

The plea highlights that the WHO has already issued an interim guidance for standardizing the rights, roles and responsibilities of health care workers internationally; however, the Indian government has failed to devise a national protocol for the same.

In this backdrop, the Petitioner organization seeks formulation of a "National COVID19 Management Protocol".

The plea points out that paucity of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the country and lack of training on infection prevention and control has exposed frontline medical workers to serious health risk, with more than 50 health care workers including doctors from different states having tested positive for Covid-19.

Further stating that the health infrastructure in our country is "under resourced", the Petitioner has urged the government to ensure that Covid-19 protection kits are made available to every single health care professional working in the corona isolation wards, or who work in close proximity of patients suspected to be infected with the virus.

Through this plea, the Petitioner has also urged the government to expand the scope of personal accident cover provided under the "Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package Health Workers Fighting COVID-19" to include all health care workers across sectors, including those recruited on ad-hoc basis.

Inter alia, the Petitioner has drawn attention of the court towards the following problems being faced the healthcare force of the country:

  • Non-availability of sufficient number of COVID-19 testing kits;
  • Sub-standard Personal Protection Equipment's (PPE);
  • Lack of basic facilities in isolation wards; Isolation precautions are not being followed by WHO norms;
  • Hourly disinfection is not being done in the wards;
  • Mental harassment in the nature of forced over-time followed by negligible transport facilities and deduction of salary on account of leaves;
  • Health care workers who are pregnant, lactating or immune compromised are being forced to work;
  • Recent trend of eviction of health care workers from rented/leased property;
  • Lack of accommodation, food, transportation etc.;
  • Lack of free medical support for the health care workers and their families;
  • Continuous breach of Government guidelines by private hospitals.

The Petitioner has argued that Corona virus is transmitted between people through close contact and droplets. Hence, health workers who are in contact with or care for COVID patients are at a high risk of contracting infection and protecting them should be of "paramount importance" for the government.

On this note, the Petitioner has sought the following reliefs, in addition to those mentioned above:

  • Ensure that all nurses and other health care staff in Corona wards are provided with proper accommodation in close proximity to the hospitals / health care centres where they are discharging medical duties and functions;
  • Ensure that adequate and prompt transport provided to all health care workers deputed in Corona wards;
  • Ensure proper screening of suspected patients before entering the hospitals and other medical facilities and also to ensure speedy testing of suspected cases.
  • Ensure that all health care workers are trained on infection prevention and control (IPC), proper use and disposal of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) etc To ensure that the infrastructure of hospitals and health care centres are temporarily expanded so as to provide separate and hygienic washrooms for staff;
  • Ensure that Landlords / Owners throughout the country be prohibited from adhering to the recent trend of evicting the health workers owing to their concern that their health will be in jeopardy.
  • Provide free testing facility and treatment for the health care workers in case of infection of Covid-19 while they are on duty. Families of the health care workers should be taken proper care while they are in quarantine or isolation.
  • Ensure that Private Hospitals are not charging or deducting salaries from the healthcare workers if they get infected Covid-19 while they are on duty.

"A unanimously accepted belief is that the service of the health care workers are indispensible. It is the duty of the Governments to give them every possible help and assistance they direly need at this moment. Unfortunately, amid Covid-19 the following most common hardships being regularly faced by the health care workers throughout India," the plea states.

The petition has been filed by Advocate Biju P. Raman

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