Ensure uninterrupted supply of meds to hospitals, no vacancies: HC to state

PANAJI: In a major judgment that could vastly improve Goa’s public health services, the high court of Bombay at Goa on Friday ordered the state government to create a dedicated website with an electronic dashboard and a mobile app with details of a vast gamut of offerings, from OPD details to bed availability and treatments offered to specialists’ names.
The court also directed the state to maintain a systematic mechanism of continuous supply of medicines to all hospitals. It also said that the government must ensure no posts of medical officers, nurses, and other staff remain vacant, and ordered it to maintain medical equipment in OTs, OPD rooms and wards. Additionally, it asked the government to create specialised facilities for the poor, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, women, and children.
‘Visit government hospitals once in 3 months’
A division bench comprising justices G S Kulkarni and B P Deshpande disposed of a 16-year-old petition that raised important issues regarding healthcare facilities at government hospitals, clinics, and dispensaries in Goa. The court directed the government to provide heads of departments the power to utilise the budget allocated to them, so that no patient suffers for want of finances in procurement of essential requirements like medicines. “It is health which is real wealth, not pieces of gold and silver,” the high court stated, quoting Mahatma Gandhi.
The high court also asked the government to permanently constitute a committee headed by the health secretary to oversee and address all issues with regard to the appointment of staff, providing for infrastructure facilities, provision for medicines, maintenance of hygiene in public hospitals, and all other issues touching the management and administration of hospitals and health centres. The court said that this committee would be apart from the existing committees and advisory council.
“The committee as constituted shall visit all government hospitals and health centres from time to time, and in any event, once in three months,” the court said, adding that the visits of the committee must be minuted and observations recorded and listed on the official website of the health department. The bench said that important decisions should be posted on the website and made known to the public in the best possible manner.
The court also asked the government to maintain a computerised database for hospitals regarding different categories of illness that are being treated, a community medicine initiative.
The judgment also gave an opportunity to aggrieved persons to approach the Goa state legal services authority if the committee doesn’t address grievances within two months. It said that the authority’s member secretary will consider the representation of the aggrieved person and move court in appropriate proceedings to seek orders in regard to non-compliance of the high court’s orders “and/or in regard to the deficiencies in medical treatment and facilities, and/or on violation of any rights of the citizens guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution read with directive principles of state policy, on issues of medical treatment and health care”.

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