Bombay HC withdraws government for lack of medical facilities in tribal areas

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Raising concern over a woman from Palghar district who recently lost her twin boys within 24 hours of their birth due to delay in accessing a medical centre, the Bombay High Court has asked Maharashtra government on Wednesday to take immediate action to make health facilities accessible to pregnant women and infants in tribal areas.

He also expressed his dissatisfaction with the insufficient measures taken by the state to implement its directives given over the past two decades to improve the conditions of the tribals.

While the state informed the HC that it had taken initiatives to send specialist doctors to these areas, the petitioners claimed that half of the doctors, including gynecologists and pediatricians, do not show up in the Melghat dominated by the tribes, which the court called a “serious problem”.

Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice MS Karnik were hearing a slew of pleas, including those filed by activists
Dr Rajendra Burma and Bandu Sampatrao Sane, on malnutrition among children in Melghat.

Lead lawyer Jugal Kishore Gilda, representing the Burmese petitioner, said child mortality in tribal areas has increased over the past 30 years and several children have died due to malnutrition and contaminated water, among other reasons, in Melghat and other tribal areas in recent years. two months. He added that half of the doctors posted on deputation in these regions do not show up for work.

Sane, who appeared in person, said specialist doctors do not make regular visits due to lack of coordination between different departments tasked with reducing child mortality in tribal areas. He added that the doctors who are ready to join do not have accommodation and receive variable salaries and as the collectors do not visit these areas, sufficient funds are not disbursed.

Sane demanded that budget provisions for health care, as recommended in the report by senior IPS officer Dr Chhering Dorje following his visit to the region last year, be sanctioned.

Government litigator Priyabhushan P Kakade said the state has taken action against doctors who do not join their duties and sends them demonstration notices regarding their dismissal.

The HC referred to a report by Mokhada tehsil in Palghar, where Vandana Budhar had given birth to twins at home earlier this week. Soon after, the premature babies developed breathing problems. The family took Budhar and her babies to the nearest primary health center in Khodala – nearly 12 km from their village – on a makeshift stretcher. However, the twins died on the way after the family walked 3 km.

“…It’s a Palghar story. The mother lost twins because she had no access to the hospital. This court has issued instructions from time to time. In 2006, it had issued 13 instructions… Since then, 16 years have passed. What has been the evolution since? the HC asked the state.

“Tell us what immediate directions can be given to the government…for particular areas where immediate attention is needed. We will place an order accordingly, he added.

The HC will hear the case on September 12.

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