Protection, Welfare of Doctors, Nurses fighting Coronavirus Battle: HC releases series of directions
The Draft Bill on violence against doctors proposed in March 2019 has also resulted in no law- lamented the bench
Srinagar: Dealing with a bunch of petitions addressing the current crisis of coronavirus (COVID 19) epidemic, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court recently passed a set of directions for protection of healthcare personnel and strict compliance of lockdown guidelines imposed by the government.
Several points of consideration were brought up before the HC bench of Chief Justice Geeta Mittal and Justice Rajnesh Oswal which conducted the proceedings via video conference.
With the petitioners urging to join stakeholders in decision making, the bench noted that in all hospitals, health care institutions, there are associations of the health care professionals including the resident doctors, faculty members, nurses, the safai karamcharis, etc who are working on the ground and are aware of the specific difficulties and needs required to address the issue of inadequate coronavirus management in the state.
Therefore, the authorities could consider asking for nominations from healthcare professionals associations and joining them in the discussions and decision making being undertaken towards addressing the current crisis, the bench suggested.
The bench was moved with the needs of healthcare personnel who are engaged in the treatment of COVID-19 patients and prevention of the infection and are clearly working beyond the call of their routine duties and also overtime. The Bench asked the administration to consider keeping canteens and kitchens in all medical institutions open 24 hours to ensure necessities are always available to these personnel. It was also suggested that the involvement of NGOs and citizen volunteers could be considered.
Further, on the request seeking assurance of provision of care to dependants/families of healthcare personnel/government personned/officials engaged in the COVIC-19 management, the bench stated:
"It is also essential to address certain specific needs of those engaged in the COVID-19 issues. Management of the current situation requires them to be out of homes way beyond normal eight hour duty routines. Many of them may be having family responsibilities. There could be family members or dependents with health issues, who may be facing difficulties on account of the personnel not being available to attend to their needs."
In order to ensure the full attention of the personnel addressing the coronavirus effects, it is necessary that they be kept free of any personal tensions and needs, the bench stressed while adding that it is, therefore, necessary to create a network/body of persons who would attend to the needs of the family members/dependents of all personnel (including those in the healthcare services) attending to COVID-19 issues. This would enable efficient and optimised response by the persons addressing COVID-19 issues.
The judges stated that it is essential to be prepared for the possibility of a partial or a full removal of the lockdown restrictions.
It is therefore imperative to prepare the public about the permissible conduct upon removal of the restrictions (partial or complete); progression of the COVID-19 virus infection and life of the virus; possibility of carriers existing and infecting despite the lockdown and all related information.
Meanwhile, many complaints had been moved to various government authorities regarding one of the major concerns of medical fraternity across the nation at present-- the inadequacy of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), the bench cognizant of the situation said:
Let the Department of Health and Medical Education inform this court with regard to availability of personal protection equipments for the safety of all healthcare workers.
While addressing issues of Safety, Care, Health and the rampant menace of violence against doctors, medical Professionals and Clinical Establishments as well as noting the Need for a legislative framework towards the same, the judges emphasized that these matters would need critical attention of the Central Government as well as the Governments of Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Making further observation, the court took the Draft Bill 2019 into account. 'Draft Bill' on violence against the healthcare professionals and establishments was released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 8th March 2019 inviting public comments till the end of September, 2019.
"We are pained to note that such a critical matter is being randomly addressed and 19 legislations are in existence in separate States with reports on the matter showing hardly any prosecutions. The Draft Bill proposed in March 2019 has also resulted in no law."
During the hearing, it was submitted before the bench pollen from poplar trees remains in the air for between 25-30 days and creates havoc so far as respiratory diseases are concerned and this pollen may have the potential to hold the COVID-19 virus and resulted in aggravation of the spread of this infection as well. On this, the bench asked the Secretary, Health and Medical Education, to, if the impact as suggested is correct, immediate remedial action.
On the issue of difficulties faced by authorities in tracing contacts of coronavirus infected persons, the bench said that stressed on the imperative need of information regarding persons gathering at different places being readily available to the concerned authorities.
Attached is the order below: