New Delhi: The Supreme Court set up a 12-member National Task Force (NTF) to facilitate public health response to Covid-19, including streamlining of oxygen distribution in the country, based on scientific and specialised domain knowledge.
The apex court had expressed its dissatisfaction at the Centre’s earlier oxygen for bed formula. The court however, said the formula did not take into consideration the fact that many Covid-19 patients in dire need of oxygen do not get beds or were confined to home care.
A Bench led by D.Y.Chandrachud said, “The formula should be scrapped and the problem of allocation of oxygen required to be looked into afresh. The rationale for constituting a Task Force at a national level is to facilitate public health response to the pandemic based on scientific and specialised domain knowledge.”
The court said, “Leading experts shall associate themselves with the task force, as members and resource persons, to facilitate the formulation of scientific strategies to deal with public health response, including the supply of oxygen and essential drugs, based on scientific and specialized domain knowledge. The NTF will enable the decision makers to have inputs which go beyond finding ad hoc solutions to the current problems.”
The NTF will start its work immediately and has an initial life-span of six months. Moreover, the court urged the NTF to take up and determine the pressing issue of the modalities of oxygen within a week.
According to report, the public health institutions, government facilities and private hospitals have to cooperate with the NTF. It could form sub-groups of experts on a regional basis in the specialized areas of infectious disease modelling, critical care, clinical virology and epidemiology.
The members of the Task Force are Bhabatosh Biswas, former Vice-Chancellor, West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Kolkata; Devender Singh Rana, chairperson, Board of Management, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi; Devi Prasad Shetty, chairperson and executive director, Narayana Healthcare, Bengaluru; Gagandeep Kang, professor, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu; J V Peter, director, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu; Naresh Trehan, chairperson and managing director, Medanta Hospital and Heart Institute, Gurugram; Rahul Pandit, director, Critical Care Medicine and ICU, Fortis Hospital, Mulund (Mumbai, Maharashtra) and Kalyan (Maharashtra); Saumitra Rawat, chairman & head of the department of surgical gastroenterology and liver transplant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi; Shiv Kumar Sarin, senior professor and head of department of hepatology, director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Science (ILBS), Delhi; Zarir F. Udwadia, consultant chest physician, Hinduja Hospital, Breach Candy Hospital and Parsee General Hospital, Mumbai; secretary, ministry of health and family welfare, Government of India (ex officio member); and the convener of the National Task Force, who shall also be a member, will be the Cabinet secretary to the central government. The cabinet secretary may nominate an officer not below the rank of additional secretary to depute for him, when necessary.
To ensure a measure of accountability for the proper distribution of oxygen supplies made available by the Centre to the states/UTs, the audits in states would be done by sub-groups or committees comprising a secretary to the state government, an additional/joint secretary to the Centre, two medical doctors in the state/UT concerned including at least one with administrative experience of managing the medical facilities of a hospital; a Petroleum and Explosives Safety Organization representative. For Delhi, the audit sub-group would consist of Randeep Guleria, professor and head, department of pulmonary medicine and sleep, AIIMS; Sandeep Budhiraja, clinical director & director – internal medicine, Max Healthcare; and an IAS officer, each from the Union government and GNCTD, not below the rank of Joint Secretary