The Western regional public hearing being conducted by the National Human
Rights Commission and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, at Tata Institute of Social
Sciences in Mumbai  bought to light several key issues of denial of health care in the public and private sector.

Acting Chairperson of the NHRC Justice Cyriac Joseph declared  in
the inaugural session that “NGOs are the eyes and ears of NHRC”,   and also
reiterating the position that the NHRC cannot look into large scale
violations of human rights in the context without conducting such joint
processes across the country, he paved the way for collaborative efforts
towards addressing human rights violations.

Strongly objecting to the media account, which likened the NHRC public
hearings to a Khap Panchayat., Justice Joseph said  ‘ Khap  Panchayat is illegal  while , NHRC is a quasi judicial body created by a statute and has a mandate to look at cases of human rights violation and make the necessary recommendations. NHRC is not in competition with judiciary, but infact play a supplemental and additional role, he added. He also clarified that public hearing is not taking up any complaint that is pending in any court of law.

.The cases of denial are being heard in 3 separate benches by the NHRC. Each bench is accompanied by a panel of experts.

In the Bench one, where the cases from Maharashtra were being heard,
Justice Cyriac Joseph, and Justice Bhannurmath (Chairperson, State Human
Rights Commission, ) took to task, the Civil Surgeon, and the Orthopedic
surgeon of the Nandurbar Civil hospital, for delaying surgery in the case
of an accident victim, which cost him amputation of his leg. The patient, a
young tribal man, was referred to the Nandurbar civil hospital, where the
surgery necessary for saving the leg was not conducted in time.

During the hearing, the orthopedic surgeon pleaded that the patient was in
shock initially and that he was not ready for surgery, having a low BP and
low heamoglobin count. However, when the cause for the inordinate delay of
4 to 5 days was further probed, it emerged that the blood required for
transfusion was not available. The patient also claimed to have received
only one blood bottle free of charge, and having paid for all other bottles
despite being a BPL patient. NHRC took a note of the fact that a BPL
patient was made to pay money for blood, which he should be given free of

The NHRC also asked the DHS of Maharashtra, Dr. Satish Pawar about the
presence of a Standard Operating Protocol, to which he replied that it is
in process in Maharashtra and will be published in 2 months.

Taking cognizance of the serious lapses which have taken place and the
effect they have had on the life of a young poor tribal patient, the NHRC
gave the following recommendations for the Government :-

1. Provide artificial leg to the victim within a period of 3 months
2. To pay an amount of Rs. 2 lakhs as compensation to the victim within 1 month .

3. To Provide compensation of Rs 1 lakh  within 2 months  for wrongful
diagnosis of a pregnant woman as HIV  positive

There were 20 cases of health rights denial/medical negligence
presented at the plenary of Rajasthan. The cases ranged from gross
systemic gaps in reproductive health services such as maternal deaths,
sterilisation failures etc, to cases related to communicable diseases
such as Tuberculosis, other diseases such as cancer and HIV & AIDS

For Rajasthan ,  Justice S.C.Sinha heard all the registered cases,
along with a panel of public health experts, Dr. Abhijit Das and Prof.
Jaya Sagade. .Justice Sinha directed state to expediate the process of
implementation of Clinical Establishment Act and assure regulation and
quality of services of private health care facilities.

Astonished by the cases of tuberculosis deaths in Bhadesar block of
Rajasthan, Justice Sinha suggested an extensive survey to identify
cases of TB in the state and ensure efficient execution of DOTS
program. On the cases of sterilisation failures, Justice Sinha
directed the state to assess rate of  incidence of sterilisation
failures across the state and take stringent measures to control
failure rates which in Rajasthan is extremely high. He also stressed
that the state should ensure timely and due payment of entitled
compensations in all the cases of sterilisation failure.

In a landmark victory of mental health rights in Gujarat, Justice
Murugesan   directed the Gujarat Governmentthat free treatment be made
available for  all patients diagnosed by psychiatrist  on basis of
complaint fled by  four patients from morbid district. The Gujarat
Govt accepted it .

Justice Murugesan heard  cases of denial of services  at CHC’s for
maternity services  violating the free entitlements  under  Janani
Shishu Suraksha Karyakram  (JSSK ) Also ESIS  hospital in Gujarat
refers to general hospital  despite  employees being contributing to
ESIS Scheme .

The public hearing will continue tomorrow at TISS discussing systemic
issues of health rights and NHRC will finally close the hearing giving
it recommendations .