In a state where the current government boasts of Ram Janmabhoomi, the medical facilities are quite literally left “Ram Bharose” (at the mercy of god).
This is not a satirical comment, but an observation made by the Allahabad High Court. On Monday, 17 May, while addressing the issue of the COVID-19 crisis in the state of Uttar Pradesh, the HC said:
“If this is the state of affairs of treatment at the medical college in a 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’.”Allahabad High Court
The court expressed anguish towards the case of Santosh Kumar, one of the COVID patients who had collapsed in the bathroom and died, which was disposed of as an unidentified body.
Grim Situation in Towns and Villages
The Allahabad High Court was particularly concerned about the fact that if the situation in a city like Meerut is so grim, one can only imagine how appalling the conditions would be in small towns and villages.
Citing the example of Bijnor, the court said:
“In district Bijnor, the urban population, as per the 2011 census, is shown to be 9,25,312. We have no doubt in observing that it must have gone up by 25 percent by 2021, but to our utter surprise, there is no level-three hospital in Bijnor district. The three government hospitals have only 150 beds, whereas, the total of number if BiPAP machines is five and High Flow Nasal Cannula is only two.”Allahabad High Court
The court then committed itself to break down the numbers, identifying the ratio of availability of medical facilities per the total population of districts.
The court said one health centre has the load of 3 lakh people and against 3 lakh people, it has only 30 beds. Meaning thereby, one CHC can cater to the need of healthcare to only 0.01 percent population, and there is no BiPAP machine or High Flow Nasal Cannula available. Only 17 oxygen concentrators are available with 250 oxygen cylinders against 300 beds.
In Such State of Affairs, We're Leading UP People to a Third Wave
The court did not mince words to point out that the medical facilities in UP are so abysmal that the people are “being led towards a third wave”. The court was also not impressed with the pace of testing in rural areas.
“In the population of 32 lakh, if the testing is done of only 1,200 persons and that too in 60:40 ratio, then the situation is not happy,” the court highlighted.
“If we have to test 30 percent of the population, ie almost 10 lakh in the rural areas of district Bijnor within three months’ time, then we will have to conduct 10,000 tests per day, but from the statement made by the District Magistrate, we do not see any such robust testing in near future in district Bijnor.”Allahabad High Court
In light of these concerning figures, the court directed the Yogi Adityanath government to immediately improve and increase the testing methods of the rural population and the population of small cities. Further, the government is also directed to provide sufficient health infrastructure in these areas.
Why Is the Govt Not Manufacturing Vaccines Itself?
Taking cognisance of the acute shortage of vaccines in Uttar Pradesh, the Allahabad High Court said that it is hard to understand why our government, which is a welfare state, is not trying to manufacture the vaccine itself on a large scale.
“Since the vaccine-producing countries are advocating for expansion of vaccine manufacturing and distribution to meet the challenge of the global health crisis and in that process agreed to the waiver of intellectual property protection, our central agencies may give a green signal to various manufacturers who have the infrastructure to manufacture the vaccine on a large scale.”Allahabad High Court
The court was also of the opinion that the vaccines may be first vigorously tested and only then should be given out for inoculating the public. The court further said medical companies in India can take the formula from the international vaccine manufacturers and start producing the vaccine.
“Big business houses who take various advantages under the taxation laws by donating to various religious organisations may be asked to divert their funds to vaccines.”Allahabad High Court
State Govt Must Consider Our Suggestions
In order to streamline the COVID-19 response in the state, the court issued certain suggestions for the UP government’s consideration:
- All nursing homes should have an oxygen facility on every bed and every nursing home/hospital which has more than 20 beds should have at least 40 percent beds as Intensive Care Units.
- Of the designated 40 percent, 25 percent should have ventilators, 25 percent should have High Flow Nasal Cannula and 50 percent of the 40 percent reserved beds should have BiPAP machines. This should be made compulsorily for all the nursing homes/hospitals in the State of Uttar Pradesh
- Every nursing home/hospital which has more than 30 beds should compulsorily have an oxygen production plant.
- Apart from various institutes like Sanjay Gandhi Postgraduate Institute and universities like the King George’s Medical University and Banaras Hindu University, there are five more medical colleges in Prayagraj, Agra, Meerut, Kanpur and Gorakhpur.
- Rural areas should be given all kinds of pathology facilities and treatments should be made available at Community Health Centres which are at par with the treatment given by level-two hospitals in bigger cities. If a patient, however, becomes serious in the rural areas or in small towns, then ambulances with all kinds of Intensive Care Unit facilities should be provided so that the patient can be brought to a hospital that has proper medical facilities in a bigger town.
- Nodal officers shall be appointed by the District Judges of Bijnor, Bahraich, Barabanki, Shrawasti, Jaunpur, Mainpuri, Mau, Aligarh, Etah, Etawah, Firozabad, and Deoria.