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Centre, States receive NHRC notice over ‘deplorable health infrastructure’

Taking suo moto cognizance of media reports on “deplorable public health infrastructure” in the country, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday issued notices to central and state governments to submit a report on the deaths due to lack of medical facilities in the last three years.

“The commission has observed that a large number of deaths of the innocent people including women, children and elderly persons are taking place due to lack of proper medical care, infrastructure, manpower and due to administrative failure, across the country,” a press release said.

It said, “The commission has reminded the Central/state governments of their constitutional duty under Article 21 of the Constitution under which Right to Life is guaranteed. Quoting the Supreme Court of India, the commission has observed that right to live with human dignity is part of Right to Life. It is the primary duty of the state under Article 47 to raise the level of nutrition and standard of living of its people, which the State has failed.”

The commission said that it is the responsibility of the state to ensure comprehensive health care facilities for all. “Success of a public health care system lies in easy accessibility, availability and affordability of treatment,” it noted.

The NHRC took note of the death of over 117 children in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome and the loss of lives in Gorakhpur due to Japanese Encephalitis in 2017 due to “non-availability of ambulances, incidents of delivery of babies in front of the hospitals due to negligence and non-availability of doctors”.

“There is an urgent need for convergence and integration of child and maternal health schemes of central and state governments and their proper implementation,” the commission said.

The commission has asked Chief Secretaries of all the states and Union Territories to submit their reports within six weeks giving the details of the incidents relating to deaths due to lack of health and medical care facilities which took place in the last three years and steps taken by them to prevent their recurrence.

It has also asked the Secretary of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare to submit a comprehensive report within four weeks on the observations.

The human rights commission also directed that teams comprising doctors on the panel of the commission along with the commission officers will visit health facilities in vulnerable states starting with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab to conduct an on-the-spot fact-finding investigation.

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