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Kerala HC asks expert committee on medical evacuation in Lakshadweep to formulate norms in 10 days

The Director, Health Services' order had put the petitioner and other inhabitants through great hardship, a petition had contended.

Published: 01st June 2021 07:47 PM  |   Last Updated: 01st June 2021 07:47 PM   |  A+A-

CPM workers protest in front of the Lakshadweep administrator’s office in Kochi on Monday demanding the revocation of the new regulations being implemented in the UT. (Photo | Albin Mathew, EPS)

CPM workers protest in front of the Lakshadweep administrator’s office in Kochi on Monday demanding the revocation of the new regulations being implemented in the UT. (Photo | Albin Mathew, EPS)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: The Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed an expert committee constituted by the Director, Health Services, Lakshadweep for recommending medical evacuation of patients from various islands to formulate guidelines on the manner of its functioning within ten days. However, the court refused to stay the order issued by the Director of Health Services of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep constituting a committee to scrutinize the requests for medical evacuations.

A Division Bench comprising Justice A Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Kauser Edappagath passed the directives on a petition filed by PM Mohammed Salih from Amini island, who had challenged the order of the Director, Health Services in constituting a four-member committee for recommending emergency evacuation of patients to Kochi or Agati or Kavaratti from other islands. 

The order of the  Director made it clear that the committee would make a recommendation on a case-to-case basis after evaluation of all relevant documents uploaded online by the medical officer in charge of the respective islands along with a specialist from the Indira Gandhi Hospital, Kavarathy. The order had put the petitioner and other inhabitants through great hardship since it would delay the processing of the evacuation request, endangering the life of the patient, the petitioner had contended. 

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Earlier, a patient in critical condition used to be airlifted as soon as the medical officer of the respective islands made a request to the Director, Health Services functioning in Kavaratti, he submitted.

S Manu, counsel for the Lakshadweep Administration, submitted that the Committee had never delayed taking a decision on an evaluation request from any medical officer. The committee members would talk to each other over the phone and take a decision in five minutes once a request was made by the medical officer of the island concerned, he noted. 

In fact, the service of 94 doctors including specialists had been made available in the islands. It was above the national average in terms of the doctor-patient ratio. For this, the Administration is spending huge amounts.

He also submitted that since the order had come into force, as many as 13 patients had been evacuated from various islands. Out of these, eight were moved to Kochi and five to Agathi hospital. The total number of evacuations was 490 during last year. An evacuation to Kochi costs about Rs 8 lakh to Rs 10 lakh, therefore, some scrutiny had to be there.

The court observed that the Bench was not interfering with the decision of the Administration. The petitioner was concerned that a delay on the part of the committee in arriving at a decision on evacuation requests would endanger the life of patients. If the committee could formulate guidelines on the manner in which it was making a decision on medical evacuation requests, the apprehension of the petitioner could be allayed, the court observed.



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