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Delhi HC asks Centre & Delhi govt to ensure pregnant women face no barriers during lockdown




A health worker immunises a pregnant woman at a health centre in Aurangabad, India
A health worker immunises a pregnant woman at a health centre in Aurangabad (Representational image) | Bloomberg

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has asked the Centre and the Delhi government to work in tandem to ensure that pregnant women and their family members in coronavirus hotspots face no barriers during the lockdown.

A bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad, which conducted the hearing through video conferencing, directed the Delhi government to ensure that the helpline number proposed to be set up within two days for assisting senior citizens during the pandemic are also made available for pregnant women.

The helpline number shall be publicised adequately in the newspapers and the social media as also through the Delhi Police, wherever possible,” the court order said.

“Union of India and Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi shall work in tandem to make sure that no barriers are faced by pregnant ladies and their family members residing in hot spots during the lockdown, said the order passed on April 22 and uploaded on the court’s website this afternoon.

The court passed the order while disposing of a petition by charitable trustMA – Resource Group For Women and Health claiming denial of healthcare and delivery / child birth services to pregnant women in Delhi and the barriers faced by them and their families in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown declared by the Central and state governments.

The court noted that the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs for enabling delivery of essential health services during the pandemic, which include care during pregnancy and child birth, besides prevention and management of communicable diseases, treatment of chronic diseases to avoid complications and for addressing other emergencies.

Petitioner’s advocate Vrinda Grover submitted that the government has directed all front-line workers of sub-health and wellness centres to maintain a list of persons to whom essential services have to be extended, like pregnant women and those who have recently delivered infants.

Also read: India’s VIP culture is on full display even in Modi’s ‘stringent’ lockdown

She also said auxiliary nursing mid-wives (ANM) and Asha workers must ensure that pregnant women in the last trimester are contacted to ascertain their status. She contended that despite extensive guidelines laid down by the Centre, services on ground are not readily available.

The petition sought direction for proper coordination between the concerned departments of the Centre and Delhi government so that a nodal officer is appointed in every COVID-19 hotspot, whose contact number is made public and a dedicated helpline is set up for pregnant women seeking essential health services, which includes arranging transportation to and from the hospital and securing movement passes.

Advocate Anupam Srivastava, representing Delhi government, told the court that the authorities have no objection if the helpline proposed to be set up for senior citizens, in terms of an earlier order of the high court, is also made available for pregnant women to access medical facilities and to arrange transportation for them to visit hospitals for check-ups, delivery and post-delivery consultation.

He also said a sufficient number of Asha workers and ANMs will be made available so that they can reach pregnant women, particularly those who are in the high risk category for a follow up and in the last trimester.

Central government standing counsel Rajesh Gogna assured the court that necessary compliances shall be made and the coordination between the Asha workers and ANMs shall be seamless.

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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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