[ Nellie N Manpoong ]
NAHARLAGUN, Aug 17: The state unit of the Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) has filed a writ petition in the Itanagar permanent bench of the Gauhati High Court here, seeking basic facilities at the Chimpu urban primary health centre (UPHC) to ensure that reproductive rights of women are not overlooked by the state authorities.
In its writ petition, submitted on 14 August and listed on 16 August, the HRLN said it had inspected the Chimpu UPHC on 27 March and found that the UPHC lacked a labour room and pregnant women had to seek medical attention outside of Chimpu.
“Deliveries were never performed since its inauguration (in 2009). It has been 10 years, and the women of Chimpu area have not received the facility of institutional delivery. Due to the unavailability of a labour room, pregnant women are helpless, and are forced to seek medical attention in far-off places,” it claimed.
The nearest district health centre is the Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences here, and most of the time patients are referred to Itanagar or Assam due to lack of facilities at the Chimpu UPHC, the organisation said.
It also said the Chimpu UPHC does not have an ambulance, “which serves as a crucial service in every health centre,” and pointed out the poor condition of the road leading to the UPHC.
Allegedly, patients residing in Chimpu are made to arrange their own conveyance to Itanagar, Naharlagun or Assam in case of emergency, including child delivery, the HRLN said.
Under maternity benefit schemes like the Janani Suraksha Yojana and the Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram, pregnant women receive benefits of free transportation before and after delivery.
While the organisation focused on these two prime issues concerning pregnant women, it also pointed out several issues concerning the UPHC, and submitted its recommendations, which include, but are not limited to, basic infrastructure, electricity, waste management and hygiene; ambulance and mobility; raising awareness among men and women on antenatal care; institutional delivery and postnatal care, along with provisions for medicines and equipment necessary to deliver accessible; hygienic and high-standard care and services, etc.
Reiterating that the Chimpu UPHC does not fulfill the guidelines of the public health standards set for government hospitals by the Indian government, the HRLN said “the unavailability of a labour room makes for a major failure in reproductive rights.”
Meanwhile, the standing counsel for the health department, Taba Tagum, informed that a status report has been sought from the health department.
“As of now, we do not know whether the version of the petitioners is true, but everything will be clear after receiving a proper status and written reply from the department,” he said.
He assured that the department is taking the matter seriously, but pointed out that “developing infrastructure requires the support of sister departments of the government.”
Twenty-six public interest litigations (PIL) have been filed by the HRLN concerning health centres of all levels in Upper Subansiri, Tirap, Changlang, Lohit, Lower Dibang Valley, West and East Kameng, Papum Pare, Anjaw, Namsai, etc, districts between 2015 and 2017 for failing to provide basic health services.
In 2017, the high court had directed that inquiry be conducted by a fact-finding committee into the factual situation of the existing health sector.
The committee in its report had noted that “primary health services delivery in the state is poor and below expectation, particularly in the peripheral PHCs, CHCs and district hospitals (located in remote areas), mainly because of irrational manpower deployment, absenteeism and HR indifference.”
The lawyer for the HRLN, Madan Mili, said: “This year, we are mainly focused on reproductive rights issue and water pollution. We shall be filing 16 more PILs with the help of social activists whose role is to go places for fact-finding.”
The case is set to be listed again four weeks from now.
[ Nellie N Manpoong ]