Supreme Court of India suo motu started a public interest litigation (PIL) on the clinical management of COVID-19 patients and disposal of dead bodies after watching disturbing news of horrific conditions of COVID-hospitals from the media at large (W.P. Civil No. 7/2020; In Re: Proper Treatment of COVID-19 patients and dignified handling of dead bodies in the hospitals etc.). In a landmark order last month, Apex Court has directed all state health departments to implement sweeping and immediate changes on various aspects of COVID-19 treatment including:
1) Health secretary of each state must immediately establish an expert “Committee” for supervision of all government and private COVID-19 treatment centers and submit a report within 7 days.
2) All COVID-19 hospitals must install CCTV camera in the ward to continuously monitor treatment of COVID-19 patients.
3) All COVID-dedicated hospitals must allow “one willing attendant of the patient” in the hospital premise to stay around the clock for help of the patient.
Over the past months, PBT has also received many complaints from the family of surviving or dead COVID-19 patients about the abysmal treatment of the admitted patients and inhumane treatment of the dead bodies. PBT has already brought this deplorable situations to the notice of the hospital authorities. In view of this historic order by the Apex Court, PBT has submitted appeals to the health secretaries of all states in India bringing attention to the state government and seeking detail information about the implementation of the specific directions passed by the Supreme Court including the formation of the experts’ “Committee” and their reports about functioning of the COVID-19 hospitals (see memorandum submitted to W.B. Health Secretary below).