Court suggests measure post lockdown
The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the Maharashtra government and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to consider starting a separate helpline for pregnant women after the lockdown ends.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice S.S. Shinde gave the direction while hearing a petition where a pregnant woman was refused admission to JJ Hospital and denied admission in Dholkawala Hospital on April 27 because she did not have a report which certified her to be COVID-19-negative.
The court was informed that the woman was refused admission in two other hospitals as well as a maternity home, following which she delivered a child at home with the help of a midwife.
The petition sought directions to the State and BMC to set up appropriate measures to handle cases related to pregnant women.
The State, however, refuted the petition saying five pregnant women were admitted to the hospital since April 27 and that there had been no slip-up on its part in attending to them.
The BMC, on its part, submitted a list of maternity homes and clinics in the city that attended to women infected with novel coronavirus and otherwise, and said all information related to the virus was available on its website. The corporation also said it had a dedicated COVID-19 helpline. The petitioners, however, demanded a separate helpline for pregnant women, to which the BMC submitted that it would not be possible as there is a shortage of staff, with a dozen doctors working in three shifts on the COVID-19 helpline.
Senior counsel Anil Sakhare appearing for BMC said the helpline number (1916) is provided for all patients, including pregnant women.
The court said, subject to the situation improving, the corporation may explore the possibility of providing an exclusive helpline for pregnant women. The court disposed of the petition. It said, “While expressing hope and trust that the State and the corporation shall continue in its efforts to ensure that expecting women are well attended to even in these testing times, and maximum care is taken so that not only the mother but the newborn too does not face difficulties till such time as normalcy is restored.”
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