NGOs are the eyes and ears of NHRC - Justice Cyriac Joseph

23 Mar 2019

Mumbai, Jan 6 - The Western regional public hearing being conducted by the National Human Rights Commission and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, at Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai  bought to light several key issues of denial of health care in the public and private sector.

Acting Chairperson of the NHRC Justice Cyriac Joseph declared  in the inaugural session that “NGOs are the eyes and ears of NHRC”, and also reiterating the position that the NHRC cannot look into large scale violations of human rights in the context without conducting such joint processes across the country, he paved the way for collaborative efforts towards addressing human rights violations.

Strongly objecting to the media account, which likened the NHRC public hearings to a Khap Panchayat., Justice Joseph said  ' Khap  Panchayat is illegal  while , NHRC is a quasi judicial body created by a statute and has a mandate to look at cases of human rights violation and make the necessary recommendations. NHRC is not in competition with judiciary, but infact play a supplemental and additional role, he added. He also clarified that public hearing is not taking up any complaint that is pending in any court of law.

.The cases of denial are being heard in 3 separate benches by the NHRC. Each bench is accompanied by a panel of experts.

In the Bench one, where the cases from Maharashtra were being heard, Justice Cyriac Joseph, and Justice Bhannurmath (Chairperson, State Human Rights Commission, ) took to task, the Civil Surgeon, and the Orthopedic surgeon of the Nandurbar Civil hospital, for delaying surgery in the case of an accident victim, which cost him amputation of his leg. The patient, a young tribal man, was referred to the Nandurbar civil hospital, where the surgery necessary for saving the leg was not conducted in time.

During the hearing, the orthopedic surgeon pleaded that the patient was in shock initially and that he was not ready for surgery, having a low BP and low heamoglobin count. However, when the cause for the inordinate delay of 4 to 5 days was further probed, it emerged that the blood required for transfusion was not available. The patient also claimed to have received only one blood bottle free of charge, and having paid for all other bottles despite being a BPL patient. NHRC took a note of the fact that a BPL patient was made to pay money for blood, which he should be given free of charge.

The NHRC also asked the DHS of Maharashtra, Dr. Satish Pawar about the presence of a Standard Operating Protocol, to which he replied that it is in process in Maharashtra and will be published in 2 months.

Taking cognizance of the serious lapses which have taken place and the effect they have had on the life of a young poor tribal patient, the NHRC gave the following recommendations for the Government :-

1. Provide artificial leg to the victim within a period of 3 months

2. To pay an amount of Rs. 2 lakhs as compensation to the victim within 1 month .

3. To Provide compensation of Rs 1 lakh  within 2 months  for wrongful diagnosis of a pregnant woman as HIV  positive

There were 20 cases of health rights denial/medical negligence presented at the plenary of Rajasthan. The cases ranged from gross systemic gaps in reproductive health services such as maternal deaths, sterilisation failures etc, to cases related to communicable diseases such as Tuberculosis, other diseases such as cancer and HIV & AIDS etc.

For Rajasthan,  Justice S.C.Sinha heard all the registered cases, along with a panel of public health experts, Dr. Abhijit Das and Prof. Jaya Sagade. .Justice Sinha directed state to expediate the process of implementation of Clinical Establishment Act and assure regulation and quality of services of private health care facilities.

Astonished by the cases of tuberculosis deaths in Bhadesar block of Rajasthan, Justice Sinha suggested an extensive survey to identify cases of TB in the state and ensure efficient execution of DOTS program. On the cases of sterilisation failures, Justice Sinha directed the state to assess rate of  incidence of sterilisation failures across the state and take stringent measures to control failure rates which in Rajasthan is extremely high. He also stressed that the state should ensure timely and due payment of entitled compensations in all the cases of sterilisation failure.

In a landmark victory of mental health rights in Gujarat, Justice Murugesan   directed the Gujarat Governmentthat free treatment be made available for  all patients diagnosed by psychiatrist  on basis of complaint fled by  four patients from morbid district. The Gujarat Govt accepted it .

Justice Murugesan heard  cases of denial of services  at CHC's for maternity services  violating the free entitlements under Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram  (JSSK ) Also ESIS  hospital in Gujarat refers to general hospital  despite  employees being contributing to ESIS Scheme .

The public hearing will continue tomorrow at TISS discussing systemic issues of health rights and NHRC will finally close the hearing giving it recommendations .

With courtesy -

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