LARMED at the state of affairs in a medical college in Meerut, where the body of an admitted Covid patient was disposed of as unidentified, the Allahabad High Court Monday said the medical system in Uttar Pradesh’s smaller cities and villages appeared to be at the mercy of God or ‘Ram Bharose’.
If this is the state of affairs of the treatment at Medical College in a city like Meerut then the entire medical system of the state pertaining to smaller cities and villages can only be taken to be like the famous Hindi saying ‘Ram Bharose’, says the Allahabad HC. #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/3alCJK0Zbl
— The Leaflet (@TheLeaflet_in) May 17, 2021
Santosh Kumar, the deceased, was admitted to the Medical College, Meerut on April 21 where he was kept in an isolation ward. According to an inquiry report, on the night of April 22, the patient fainted while in the washroom. Despite efforts to revive him, he succumbed to the illness. However, when the morning team arrived, they were unable to locate the patient’s file and were therefore unable to identify him even though one of the doctors on duty, Dr. Tanisha Utkarsh, had himself admitted the patient the previous day. Even the team that was on night duty was unable to recognize Santosh Kumar. The body was thus marked as unidentified, packed in a bag and disposed of.
The high court took judicial note of the incident after it went viral on social media
“ From the narration of facts, as have emerged from the inquiry, it comes out to be a case of high degree carelessness on the part of the doctors who were on night duty. It is quite surprising that Dr. Tanishq Utkarsh and his team that was on duty at the time of admission of patient on 21.04.2021, he himself could not identify the person. If this is the state of affairs of treatment at medical college in the city like Meerut then the entire medical system of the state pertaining to the smaller cities and villages can only be taken to be like a famous Hindi saying ‘Ram Bharose’”, a division bench of Justices Siddhartha Varma and Ajit Kumar, said.
The high court also expressed displeasure at the inadequate action taken by the state government against the doctors responsible for the mishap.
“Surprisingly enough, the action taken was only that there was of just a withholding of the annual increments of the paramedical staff and the doctors. We are not satisfied at the way the state has dealt with this issue”, the high court said.
It said the state needed to take stern action against those responsible and that it should compensate the dependents who “have suffered irreparable loss because of such carelessness”.
It directed the Additional Chief Secretary (Medical and Health), Government of U.P. to file an affidavit fixing responsibility in the matter. An affidavit was also directed to be filed on behalf of the Chief Secretary on the stand of the government and how it intends to compensate the dependents of the deceased.
Inadequate health infrastructure
In the context of the five cities of Bahraich, Barabanki, Bijnor, Jaunpur and Shravasti, the high court said it had no hesitation in observing that the health infrastructure was absolutely insufficient to meet the requirement of their population.
The Allahabad HC says no hesitation in observing that
health infrastructure is absolutely insufficient in city (Bahraich, Barabanki, Bijnor, Jaunpur&Shravasti) areas to meet the requirement of the city population. #Covid19 pic.twitter.com/A7vMXDja3j
— The Leaflet (@TheLeaflet_in) May 17, 2021
The high court had taken these five cities as a test case to assess the overall health care system in UP.
Taking the example of Bijnor, the high court said the number of tests conducted in urban areas so far had been 26245 since 31.03.2021 till 12.05.2021 and in rural areas 65491 during the same period. The District Magistrate, Bijnor informed the court that both RTPCR and Antigen tests were being done in the 60:40 ratio.
This was not a “happy” situation, the court said., while asserting that it was necessary for the district administration to have a robust way of conducting tests given the manner in which the pandemic had hit the rural areas of the state.
It directed the state government to immediately improve and increase testing methods in the rural population as well as those in small cities and towns and also provide sufficient health care infrastructure.
The court also suggested that every B and C Grade town in Uttar Pradesh be provided with at least 20 ambulances and every village with at least two ambulances having Intensive Care Unit facilities. Ambulances should be made available within a period of one month. With these ambulances, patients from smaller towns and villages can be brought to bigger hospitals in larger towns.