After 3-year-old Farhan died in the national Capital for an alleged want of proper ventilator care earlier this month, the state government of Delhi has told the High Court that a substantial number of ventilators in its government hospitals are not working. The state also told the HC on Tuesday that they were aiming to have a web portal up and running within two months, which would provide an online daily update on ventilator and bed availability across Delhi's government hospitals.
After directions were issued by the HC, the state asked all its hospitals to provide a status update on ventilators and according to the information received from the government hospitals, up to 52 ventilators (13 per cent) of the total of 400 ventilator beds (including 300 ICU and 100 non-ICU) available in the hospitals are non-functional. “Fifty-two ventilators are non-functional and efforts are being made to get them repaired. The procurement of 18 ventilators is under process,” said the reply filed by the state government in the High Court on February 12.
The state government also stated in its reply that as far as maintaining real-time information on the availability of vacant beds in Delhi government hospitals goes, it may not be feasible to implement real-time availability information in the initial phase and the Delhi State Health Mission should be advised to start uploading information on bed availability in all the hospitals once a day in the morning.
The state government also said the State Programme Officer (MIS) of the Delhi State Health Mission has been requested, in a letter dated January 31, to prepare a web portal for online bed/ ventilator availability and that such a Web portal should be made functional within two months.
The state government through an email sent on February 7 has also requested all the hospitals to complete repair, condemnation and procurement of ventilators at the earliest, according to Nutan Mundeja, Director General of Health Services.
Mundeja maintains that even after the deceased boy, Farhan, was provided ventilator facility and was under medical treatment in Lok Nayak Hospital, he expired on February 10.
After the matter of alleged inavailability of healthcare to Farhan came to light, the High Court moved a motion against the Union of India and sought a reply.
“3-year-old Farhan was admitted in the Paediatric Intensive Unit of Lok Nayak Hospital and expired on February 10 at 6.20 am. The patient was shifted to PICU on February 1 on Bag a Tube ventilator and later suffered three cardiac arrests,” stated U Jhamb, Director, Professor and Head, Department of Paediatrics at the hospital.
Advocate Ashok Agarwal said that the number of ventilators as compared to bed strength in government hospitals is meagre. “In private hospitals, there is one ventilator bed for every four normal beds. In government set-ups though, even as we have over 10,000 beds, we have only 348 ventilators. That is an extremely low number. Also, these ventilators may not be evenly distributed across the city,” pointed out Agarwal.