The Delhi high court on Wednesday asked Delhi government principal secretary (health) to appear before it to explain the state’s failure in putting online the details of facilities, including ventilators at its medical centers and hospitals. HC was irked over the manner in which Delhi government had responded to the issue with the court giving directions as far back as September 2017 after taking suo moto cognizance of a TOI report on death of a newborn. A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao also directed the principal secretary to ensure that a ventilator was provided to a three-year-old boy admitted at Lok Nayak Hospital since January 24. The boy is suffering from a brain-related medical condition and is on a manual resuscitator. The critical medical condition of the boy was brought to HC’s attention by advocate Ashok Agarwal, who complained that no steps were taken by Delhi government and the Center to inform patients about the facilities available at the hospitals run by them in the city.
While the Center told HC that steps were taken to ensure that patients were made aware of the medical facilities available, Delhi government’s additional standing counsel Satyakam submitted that the health department only issued a note-sheet stating that it was discussing the matter. Taking note of the fact that Delhi government couldn’t even furnish a status report, leave alone implement its earlier directions, HC said, “We are not satisfied with the manner in which Delhi government has responded to the issue. We direct the principal secretary, health department, to appear before us on February 1 to answer our queries.” In 2017, HC had taken suo moto cognizance of a TOI report on the death of a newborn as the family got no ventilator-fitted bed in four government hospitals. It had then issued directions to ensure such tragedy doesn’t recur. The court had observed that if information regarding availability of ventilators was readily accessible online, the life of the baby might have been saved.
“Given the availability of websites and internet connectivity, it would appear justified if all information in this regard, especially the position with regard to bed occupancy at a particular point of time is made available to the public,” HC had said. The TOI report has stated the baby, after a normal birth on September 20, 2017, was diagnosed with birth asphyxia that causes less oxygen to go to the brain and necessitates ventilator support. She died at Jag Pravesh Chandra Hospital because it had no ventilator support, while three government hospitals had refused admission saying no critical care beds were available. – TOI