Friday, April 18, 2014

“Health is not a luxury” and “not be the sole possession of a privileged few”

Delhi HC reminds govt health is not a luxury
By Mail Today Bureau in New Delhi
POINTING out that “ just because someone is poor, the government cannot allow him to die”, the Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Delhi government to discharge its “ constitutional obligation” and provide free treatment to a Gaucher disease patient.
The court ordered that enzyme replacement therapy be provided to a rickshaw- puller’s seven- year- old son suffering from the genetic disorder.
Justice Manmohan said that “ health is not a luxury” and “ should not be the sole possession of a privileged few”. He asked the Delhi government to provide the child with ERT at the AIIMS free of cost.
The court was hearing a plea filed by the father of Mohd.
Ahmed, who has been suffering from Gaucher disease Type- I, and was denied treatment by AIIMS as his parents were unable to pay ` 4.8 lakh per month. According to the plea, the rickshaw- puller has already lost four children to Gaucher’s disease that affects many organs and tissues. Fat accumulates in cells and organs and the disease is characterised by bruising, fatigue, anaemia, low platelet count and enlargement of the liver and spleen.
The court said the government is bound to ensure that poor and vulnerable sections of society have access to treatment for rare and chronic diseases, like Gaucher especially “ when there is a likelihood of the patient leading a normal life”. It further said that by virtue of Article 21 of the Constitution, the state is under a legal obligation to ensure patients have access to life- saving drugs.
The court also said “ government cannot cite financial crunch as a reason not to fulfil its obligation” to ensure access of medicines or to adopt a plan of action to treat rare diseases.
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