Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, the United Nurses Association has filed a writ petition before the Supreme Court. They address the imminent and extreme risks posed to the health and safety of healthcare workers across India. Referring to the World Health Organization’s interim guide for the rights and responsibilities of health workers; the petition emphasizes on the need for formulation of a National Management Protocol for COVID-19 for the healthcare workers in India.
The Writ directs the court’s attention to the most common problems faced by the healthcare personnel on the frontline. It refers to an article by Business Today that talks about nearly 50 medical personnel being infected by the virus. Highlighting the importance of the safety of the healthcare workers, the writ reads, “The health and safety (physical / mental) of health care workers are of utmost importance because further shortage of health care workers would result in thousands of unattended COVID-19 patients, which will have serious repercussions including escalation of the present situation and resultant impact on the economy, medical facilities, potential deaths and loss of human resource.“
The petition terms the Indian Medical Infrastructure ‘dangerously outstretched, understaffed and under-resourced‘. Thus, prays for the availability of COVID-19 protection kits to every single health care professional; training of medical professionals on infection prevention; and control (IPC), proper use and disposal of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), among other things.
The United Nurses Association, with 3.8 lakhs Nurses as its members, further prays for expansion of the scope of personal accident cover provided under the “Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package Health Workers Fighting COVID-19” to include all health care workers across sectors, including those recruited on ad-hoc basis.