With Uttar Pradesh battling a second Covid wave, the Allahabad High Court on Monday used a famous Hindi saying - "Ram Bharose" (at God's mercy)- as the health infrastructure in villages and small cities was discussed.
A two-judge bench of Justices Siddharth Varma and Ajit Kumar were hearing an ongoing petition, demanding better care for Covid patients in the state, when they made the observation - UP's "entire medical system", pertaining to smaller cities and villages, can only be taken to be like a famous Hindi saying 'Ram Bharose' (at the mercy of God) ".
The court noted the submissions of a three-member committee that looked into the alleged disappearance of a patient from the district hospital in western Uttar Pradesh's Meerut town in April.
The patient, Santosh Kumar, the court observed, was indeed admitted to the hospital and had collapsed in a restroom. He was then "brought upon a stretcher and efforts were made to revive him, but he succumbed".
It was further observed that his body was disposed of by doctors and medical staff as that of a person who was "unidentified".
"It comes out to be a case of high degree (of) carelessness on the part of the doctors who were on night duty," it has been underlined.
The court also made observations on the state of medical care in Uttar Pradesh, saying: "So far as the medical infrastructure is concerned, in these few months we have realised that in the manner it stands today, it is very delicate, fragile and debilitated."
The court also added: "When it cannot meet the medical requirements of our people in normal times, it definitely had to collapse in the face of the present pandemic."
In its hearing, the court also used an example from western UP's Bijnor district.
Taking note of the state government's submissions, the court said: "To our utter surprise there is no level-3 hospital in district Bijnor. The three government hospitals have only 150 beds, whereas the total of number if BIPAP machines is 5 and High Flow Nasal Cannula is only 2".
"If we take the population of rural areas to be 32 lakh, since there are only 10 Community Health Centers or CHCs, so one health centre has the load of 3 lakh people and against 3 lakh people it has only 30 beds. Meaning thereby, one CHC can cater the need of health care to only 0.01 per cent population and there is no BIPAP machine (a type of ventilator) or High Flow Nasal Cannula available."
"Only 17 oxygen concentrators are available with 250 oxygen cylinders against 300 beds. There is no description as to what the capacity of oxygen cylinders is and whether in CHC there are trained hands to operate these oxygen cylinders and concentrators," the court observed further.
Uttar Pradesh has logged 16.19 lakh coronavirus cases since the pandemic broke. Last month, daily infections rose above the 20,000-mark. Even as the state government insisted there was no shortage of medical oxygen or other resources, critics alleged patients were struggling due to lack of proper healthcare facilities.
Over the last few days, disturbing images of bodies - of suspected Covid patients - found in villages near banks of River Ganga have made headlines. The centre has told UP and neighbouring Bihar to prevent such instances.