Issuance Of Directions To Govt For Improving Public Healthcare Facilities In State: Orissa High Court

In Chittaranjan Mohanty v. State of Odisha & Ors. (W.P.(C) No. 6109 of 2018), the Orissa High Court recently conducted a holiday hearing (21st May 2022) to assess the state’s Public Healthcare Facilities. A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dr. S. Muralidhar and Justice Radha Krishna Pattanaik issued many directives to the State Government to improve conditions at government hospitals.

Brief Facts Of The Case: Mr. Chittaranjan Mohanty, a practising lawyer, filed a Public Interest Litigation about unfilled doctor sanction posts in Odisha’s public health system. It identified numerous difficulties, including lack of equipment, pharmaceuticals, drinking water, hygiene, and sanitation in government-run hospitals and health facilities, and diversion of public health service patients to private clinics. On 9 August 2021, the court issued a detailed order requesting an affidavit from the Additional Chief Secretary to the Government Department of Health and Family Welfare regarding the exact number of vacancies in each post in the Orissa Medical Health Service (OMHS) and the Orissa Medical Education Services (OMES) cadres and the time-bound steps proposed to fill those vacancies.

In its order dated 17 November 2021, the Court noted the petitioner’s concern that Doctors attached to Government Health Facilities, viz., District Health Centers (DHCs), Community Health Centers (CHCs), and Primary Health Centers (PHCs), are also practising privately without attending to their duties at the Government Health Facilities. The State Government issued an order on 1 November 2003 allowing Government Doctors to practise privately following their official responsibilities. The petitioner says this has hurt Odisha’s health care quality.

Judgement: The court then reviewed substantial DLSA report gaps. The Bench explained that it has only highlighted a few of the significant concerns raised by the reports since they are too basic for any health institution, i.e. DHHs, CHCs, and PHCs, to deliver the least standard of medical care to those who cannot afford private care. Some reports indicate that patients are being forced to pay for private MRIs and CT scans. The foregoing issues demand prompt State Government attention and corrective action.

In light of the findings, the Court ordered the Health & Family Welfare Department, Government of Odisha, to issue notices to the health facility’s administrators within one week. The notifications must be answered within 10 days, preferably with confirmation of corrective action. If the response isn’t adequate, the HFW Department will take necessary legal action. If corrective action has not already been done, the HFW Department will set a deadline of 15 July 2022 for correcting the shortcoming. The State Government will send crack teams to the facilities and other facilities in each district between July 16 and July 25, 2022 to ensure that corrective action has been taken. The State Government will file a reply before this Court by 1 August 2022, addressing each shortcoming district- and facility-wise in a tabular form, as per the 128-page report summary (Find in the judgement).

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