A PIL has been moved in the Calcutta HC urging, inter alia, that directions shall be issued to the Government for the implementation of telemedicine systems for the remote treatment of patients amid the COVID-19 health crisis.
The petition has been moved by Eshan Madhav Saha who has argued that “by not enforcing the telemedicine mechanism, the state is arbitrarily depriving patients living in the most remote areas from being treated by a qualified registered medical practitioner. This amounts to violation of article 14 and impinging the right of life and dignity of such patients. (sic)” The petition has been filed and drawn by Advocate Rahul G Tanwani.
The petitioner concerned about the provision of adequate protective gear for health professionals working on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19. He argued that there has been a constant delay and failure on the part of the State in providing adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits to health professionals, which is prima facie illegal, and arbitrary in nature.
“(The) State on account of its inaction has put the doctors in harm’s way by making them potential/ suspected and susceptible carriers of the disease … inaction and failure of the state in providing these PPE kits amounts to jeopardizing and compromising public health”
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The petitioner further stated:
“… it is absolutely imperative that, these kits and telemedicine services are provided considering the contagious nature and spread of the disease with absolutely no cure in place.”
The petitioner has also called for the publication of certain information regarding the State’s response to the pandemic in the interest of transparency which is as follows:
- A list of exclusively designated hospitals marked for treatment of COVID-19 cases along with anti COVID-19 measures and protocols in place, as well as the Medical and Para-medical personnel available in these hospitals;
- The list and rolls of all Registered Medical Practitioners including Junior Resident Doctors;
- Creation of a special police helpline and government helpline to enable citizens and frontline workers/ doctors and registered medical practitioners to seek help with regards to COVID-19 cases;
- A mechanism should be formulated and published regarding the system though which doctors can conduct remote diagnosis through software facilities to enable patients residing in the remotest of areas to have access to public health and treatment systems;
- Detailed data (district wise) of the number of tests the State has conducted since from the beginning to the disease outbreak and disclose the number of COVID-19 testing kits, received, disbursed, deployed and the complete supply mechanism in a transparent manner;
- Information regarding procurement and standards of testing and disbursement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) provided to all officers and staff members in the West Bengal Administration including the Municipal Personnel;
- A portal exhibiting the geo-mapping of COVID-19 cases and areas where they have occurred in West Bengal along with real time data and analysis;
- Details of sealing and cluster sealing of areas affected on account of COVID-19 cases, along with the mechanism and process deployed for such sealing
- Details pertaining to compulsory testing of passengers at all points of entry into the State including ports, docks, stations, airports and any other border entry points of the State;
- Details of adequate security measures in place for preservation of Law and Order situation and public safety in West Bengal and the Metropolitan Region of Kolkata.
The petitioner argued that such will fulfill the following proposes:
- Utmost transparency in the State’s functioning in combatting the pandemic;
- Compliance with international standards and guidelines as issued and published by the World Health Organisation from time to time, and
- Prevention of the spread of any false information, misinformation and wrong information that could lead to mass hysteria and be repugnant to the measures to be taken to combat the pandemic.