The Gujarat high court sought a reply from the state and central governments, over a PIL complaining of the lack of health infrastructure and a shortage of doctors and medical staff at government health centers and hospitals in rural Gujarat. The PIL was filed by a retired joint director of health services, Dr Madhavji Gajera, through advocate K R Koshti and sought the HC’s directions to the government to provide all health facilities of primary health centers, sub-centers, community health centers as well as district hospitals in tribal and non-tribal rural areas, and to make them fully functional. Seeking replies from the authorities by January 29, acting Chief Justice A S Dave commented that this was ‘a genuine PIL’. The petitioner demanded health facilities in strict adherence with the Indian Public Health Standards, with adequate infrastructure and medical facilities, manpower and availability of all necessary drugs and equipment, services like ambulances, water supply, electricity and bio-waste management.
The PIL demanded the formation of a special committee of health experts to study present conditions and recommend measures to address deficiencies in the healthcare system. The petitioner cited the 2017 Rural Health Statistics Report to highlight the dearth of doctors at health centers and hospitals in rural areas which aggravate the inadequate and weak public health system during outbreaks of communicable diseases such as malaria, dengue, chikungunya, swine flu, leptospirosis, Chandipura virus, Zika etc. Koshti contended that specialists are not available in rural areas. Surgeries are often not possible as even though a surgeon is available, an anesthetist is not. The state government has not complied with the health standards and since the petitioner has himself served in the health department, he is fully aware of the situation. The PIL contended, “The health infrastructure of this state is crippled, as a result of which the health of ordinary citizens is in serious jeopardy.” It cited the state’s high infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate to drive the point home. – TOI