Mumbai: Responding to an earlier order passed by the Bombay High Court seeking to know the steps undertaken by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for patients suffering from ailments other than COVID-19, the civic body has said that while it is doing its bit, private medical practitioners and healthcare establishments "have to shoulder the responsibility", and should step in and treat such patients. The civic body informed the court that it has put in all efforts to ensure no non COVID-19 patient is left in the lurch.
The BMC’s stand was put forth through an affidavit filed by Suresh Kakani, Additional Municipal Commissioner of the BMC. The bench of Justice Burgess Colabawalla has now posted the matter for further hearing on May 14, with a directive to senior counsel Gayatri Singh, who appears for an activist, to respond to the contentions of the BMC.
The affidavit filed through senior counsellor Anil Sakhre, states, "The BMC has been wary of the fact that the citizens suffering from ailments other than coronavirus would require medical assistance and therefore, from time-to-time, various notifications, directions and guidelines have been issued to ensure that sufficient healthcare facilities are available across the city for the aid and benefit of all citizens."
"In addition to taking steps to mobilize the healthcare facilities to combat the highly contagious COVID-l9, the BMC has also issued necessary guidelines to ensure that healthcare facilities are also made available to nonCOVID patients. However, the private medical practitioners, nursing homes and other healthcare establishments also play a pivotal role in the present circumstances," the affidavit adds.
The civic body has further said that all its health workers, medical and paramedical staff, dispensaries as well as the other hospital workers are putting in all efforts to ensure that medical assistance is available to all the citizens, whether for COVID or non-COVID ailments.
"The private medical practitioners and local general practitioners in every locality have to shoulder the responsibility to ensure that medical assistance is available to all the citizens that require it," the BMC has said.
Highlighting its work till date, the BMC has claimed to have screened over 2.25 lakh travellers or tourists, who entered the city via the international airport. It also claimed to have quarantined over 96,000 Mumbaikars either in institutional or home quarantine.
The civic body has further pointed out that under the aegis of its public health department, there are 27 maternity homes and 158 dispensaries that are catering to the requirements of non-COVID patients, while 28 such dispensaries are exclusively for COVID suspects.
"There are around 1,416 private nursing homes registered under the Bombay Nursing Homes Registration Act in the city, which ought to be available for treating persons suffering from ailments other than COVID," the affidavit points out. The affidavit further goes on to state that the civic body has decided to use a total of 60 `dial 108’ ambulances only for Covid-19 patients.
"Therefore, it is not the case that ambulance facilities are only mobilized for the purpose of COVID patients and such facilities are also made available to non-COVID patients. However, it is for the safety and benefit of the citizens that separate ambulances have been designated for COVID patients to prevent the spread of the virus," the affidavit reads.