Ahmedabad, Wed Mar 27 2013, ,IE

The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday came down heavily on the state government over the prevalence of swine flu in the state and asked why it did not declare the disease “an epidemic”.The court also termed the state government’s report on steps being taken to handle the disease as “an eyewash”.After lashing out at the state government, the court directed the Commissioner of Health to file a detailed affidavit on a variety of issues related to the disease and medical emergency situation in the state by April 9, when further hearing is scheduled.

The court presided over by Justice Anant Dave had, in the last hearing, asked the state government to submit a detailed report related to the disease while acting on certain bail petitions by some undertrial prisoners who had sought bail to attend to their relatives suffering from diseases like swine flu, malaria and dengue.On Tuesday, the state government counsel presented the report before the court and apprised it about the instructions being given to the government hospitals and health centres.

The court, however, was unimpressed. “Instructions do not work. There are no qualified doctors in your CHCs (Community Health Centres). Even for X-ray, patients have to go outside,” the court said.The court said there were norms of cleanliness and hygiene in government hospitals but expressed doubts about how many hospitals were following the same.

Apprising the court about various provisions at government hospitals, the state government’s counsel said they were having rain-basera facilities in major centres for accommodation of relatives of the patients.To this, the court said, “Even for patients there are no beds in hospitals, what rain basera for their relatives? This is an eye-wash. They (relatives of the patients) are sleeping outside the Civil Hospital. And health and hygiene are worst in government hospitals.”

Referring to private hospitals, the court asked the state government if there was any specific requirement for opening multi-specialty and super-specialty hospitals or it was “part of industrial policy (of the state government)”.The court asked the state government counsel why it did not declare swine flu as an epidemic. When the government counsel said it would require a notification to be issues, the court wanted to know about the criteria set to declare a particular disease an epidemic.

On the role of private hospitals in medical emergency situation, the court asked the state government to provide details of provisions under which services of private hospitals could be summoned.It also sought details on what special treatment was being given to pregnant females as they faced increased threat from H1N1 infection.

The HC also referred to an earlier court order under which a committee of lawyers had visited the Civil Hospital after some junior doctors had died of dengue at the hostel and a public interest litigation was filed seeking cleanliness and hygienic conditions at the Ahmedabad Civil Hospital.Govt gives figures on swine flu

In its report submitted before the High Court, the state government has given figures of swine flu cases in Gujarat since 2009 while comparing the same with states like Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. According to these figures, in 2013, Gujarat has so far recorded 689 swine flu cases. The report also gives history of the H1N1 virus in detail. It also contains details of the awareness campaign the state government has launched and various steps taken by the Health Department to mitigate the situation. The report also records that additional ventilators are required to attend critically-ill patients having H1N1 infection.