NAHARLAGUN, May 23: The Itanagar Bench of the Gauhati High Court on Friday sought a response from the health & family welfare department in two weeks’ time regarding the lack of basic infrastructure and health professionals at various health facilities in Lohit district, failing which, the health secretary may be summoned to appear before the court.
In a hearing held on 22 May last, the court here observed, “There cannot be anything more important than health. However, we are sorry to observe that the respondents (health department) have not shown enough concern on the matter.”
Several PILs had been filed in 2018, wherein there were claims of failure on the part of the authorities to provide proper medical facilities at the time of delivery, besides claims that the health centres in Lohit district do not fulfil the indian public health standard (IPHS) guidelines and severely lacked basic facilities, including shortage of medical staff and medicine.
The court held subsequent hearings and during a hearing held on 28 February, 2020, it sought additional affidavit from the health department seeking “budgetary allocation made in respect of district hospitals, PHCs and CHCs in all the districts of Arunachal Pradesh, besides reflecting the total amount of money placed under the head ‘salary’ for each district hospital, PHC and CHC for the years 2018-2019 and 2019-2020” within four weeks.
The court also sought that the sanctioned strength and the actual strength of medical officers (MOs) in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, and the place of posting of the said MOs be reflected in the additional affidavit.
“The additional affidavit to be filed, shall also state the number of central schemes that are being supervised by the health department, Government of Arunachal Pradesh and on the basis of which doctors have been appointed. The number of doctors appointed on contract basis and their place of postings in terms of the central schemes should also be reflected in the additional affidavit,” the court had said.
However, no affidavit was filed as directed in the order passed in February this year and during the hearing on 22 May, the court granted two weeks’ time for filing affidavit-in- opposition by the respondents as directed earlier.
The court observed, “For any matter relating to health, one is not expected to be so causal. We cannot appreciate this. Right to life is what we are concerned with in this petition. The respondents who are responsible officers should have realized the importance of the matter.”
“Covid-19 has exposed the real face of the health sector in Arunachal Pradesh. Despite many PILs filed, the government was not at all bothered even after the court’s repeated orders. Covid-19 is actually a blessing in disguise, which has resulted in providing several district hospitals with ICUs, including the state hospital TRIHMS. However, it is a small beginning and the health sector needs to improve more,” Madan Mili, a human rights lawyer said.