by Tanya Vashitha
The united nurses association has moved to Supreme Court pressing the issues being faced by the health care workers including the nurses and Para-medical staff working at the frontline to treat COVID-19 patients.
The plea highlights that the WHO has already issued an interim guidance for standardizing the rights, roles and responsibilities of health care workers internationally; however, the Indian government has failed to devise a national protocol for the same.
In this backdrop, the petitioner organization seeks formulation of a “National COVID-19 Management Protocol.”
The plea points out that the paucity of personal protective equipment in the country and lack of training on infection prevention and control has exposed frontline medical workers tom serious health risk, with more than 50 health workers including doctors from different states having tested positive for covid-19.
Further stating that the health infrastructure in our country is “under resourced”, the petitioner has urged the government to ensure that covid-19 kits are made available to every single health care professional working in the corona isolation wards, or who work in the close proximity of patients suspected to be infected with the virus.
Through this plea, the petitioner has also urged the government to expand the scope of personal accident cover provided under the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package Health Workers Fighting Covid-19” to include all health workers across sectors, including those recruited on ad-hoc basis.
Inter alia. The petitioner has drawn attention of the court towards the following problems being faced the healthcare force of the country.
- Non availability of sufficient covid-19 testing kits;
- Sub standard personal protection equipments;
- Lack of basic facilities in isolation wards; isolation precautions are not being followed ny WHO norms;
- Hourly disinfection is not being done in the wards;
- Mental harassment in the nature of forced overtime followed by negligible transport facilities and deduction of salary on account of leaves;
- Health care workers who are pregnant, lactating or immune compromised are being forced to work;
- Recent trend of eviction of health care workers from rented/leased property;
- Lack of accommodation, food and transport;
- Lack of free medical support for health care workers and their families;
- Continuous breach of government guidelines by private hospitals
The petitioner has argued that corona virus is transmitted between people through close contact and droplets. Hence, health workers who are in contact with or care for COVID patients are at high risk of contracting infection and protecting them should be of paramount importance for the government.
The petition has been filed by Advocate Biju. P. Raman.