NEW DELHI: Terming the right to health as a fundamental right which includes affordable treatment, the Supreme Court on Friday said it is the duty of the state to make provisions for affordable treatment during this unprecedented pandemic.
“It is a world war against Covid-19. Therefore, there shall be a government-public partnership,” a bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said while adding, “It cannot be disputed that for whatever reasons the treatment has become costlier, it is not affordable to the common people at all.”
“Even if one survives from Covid, many a time, financially and economically he is finished. Therefore, either more provisions are to be made by the state government and local administration or there shall be a cap on the fees charged by private hospitals,” the bench said in its 17-page order.
The court also asked all states and Union Territories to set up committees to conduct monthly fire safety audit of hospitals, including the ones treating Covid patients. The court said every state must appoint a nodal officer responsible for ensuring adherence to fire safety norms in hospitals.
“Every state must act vigilantly and work with the Centre harmoniously. It is time to rise to the occasion. Safety and health of the citizens must be the first priority rather than any other considerations,” the order reads.
The top court asked the government to devise a mechanism to give rotational break to doctors and healthcare professionals working continuously since April. On behalf of the Centre, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta assured the court that the government would take a decision in a day or two.
The court also directed the authorities to conduct more testing and to declare correct facts and figures.
“One must be transparent in number of testing and in declaring the facts and figures of the persons who are Covid positive. Otherwise people will be misled.”
The court also directed political parties to adhere to guidelines issued by the Election Commission to ensure safety of people.
‘Form panels for fire safety’
The court asked all states and UTs to set up committees to conduct monthly fire safety audit of hospitals, including the ones treating Covid-19 patients