Shocked HC reminds Centre, Karnataka of constitutional obligations to patients
CJ Oka directs BBMP and state govt to take over SWR’s oxygen beds
The ground reality of virtually non-existent ventilator beds for serious Covid cases — by now only too well-known to desperate patients and their families — came as a shock to the Karnataka High Court when it was informed that Bengaluru had only 14 ventilator beds available as on Thursday.
When Chief Justice AS Oka and Justice Arvind Kumar, who are looking into Covid-19 related issues, questioned the BBMP counsel on the number of vacant beds, the shocking reply was: 1,730 general beds, HDUs 121, ICUs with ventilator 14 and ICUs 30.
The court was also shocked to know that the BBMP could only add 29 ICU beds between April 27 and Thursday, April 29. The court observed that the number of positive cases has gone up to 22,000 per day, whereas the beds availability is far from satisfactory.
Only 1% need hospitalisation: govt
Advocate General Prabhuling Navadgi said the percentage of persons requiring hospitalisation is only 1 per cent, while the court observed that at any point there are not more than 100 beds available in Bengaluru.
Chief Justice Oka observed that given the shortage of beds and private hospitals failing to give 50% of their beds to BBMP, it is the obligation of the Centre and the state to provide the best possible treatment to all.
The court’s order said, “It is important to remind the Centre and the state and other agencies to fulfill their obligations to preserve the right to life under Article 21. Today we are dealing with an extraordinary situation. Those who are infected look to the state to provide them with the best possible treatment and healthcare. Covid is a disease that requires specialised treatment. It is necessary for us to remind the Centre and the state that it is their obligation to provide the best possible treatment to all. They are ultimately dealing with the fundamental right to life.”
During the hearing, advocate M N Kumar appearing for the Central government said South Western Railway is in a position to provide 300 oxygen beds in Bengaluru, Mysuru, Hubballi and Belagavi. The Chief Justice directed BBMP and the state government to take immediate steps to take over the SWR beds.
How much Remdesivir?
The CJ also directed the state government to make an estimate of the quantum of vials of Remdesivir in all hospitals, and if 50% of private hospital beds have been allotted to BBMP. He directed the Centre to consider the request of the state for increasing the allocation of Remdesivir to Karnataka.
The court also directed the state government and BBMP to display the contact number of the Deputy Drugs Controller outside the helpdesk of every hospital so that relatives can get Remdesivir on call.
PHANA’s own portal
Meanwhile, Private Hospitals and Nursing Homes Association (PHANA) president Dr HM Prasanna informed the court that the association is coming out with its own portal with real-time updates of bed availability in private hospitals.
Prasanna said, “We have appointed nodal officers in every hospital. Even BWSSB and BESCOM officials are coordinating. We are not denying admission. We have a helpdesk in all hospitals except for the small ones.”