Bombay HC to BMC: ‘Consider separate helpline for pregnant women during lockdown’

Written by Omkar Gokhale
| Mumbai |


Updated: May 23, 2020 10:04:31 pm





(Reuters/File)

The Bombay High Court Friday suggested that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the state government may consider setting up a separate helpline for pregnant women while noting that the civic body and government have taken adequate measures for treating pregnant women during the Covid-19 lockdown.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice S S Shinde made the suggestion while hearing a PIL filed by advocate Mohiuddin Vaid citing a media report about an incident where an expecting woman was on April 27 refused admission to J J hospital, as she did not have a report certifying her as Covid-19 negative.

Anil Sakhare, senior counsel appearing for the BMC, said a number of maternity homes and clinics were catering to the needs of expecting women during the pandemic and that there is a dashboard on its website with the list of hospitals.

The BMC in its affidavit submitted that there have been nearly 10,486 deliveries, including 3,905 deliveries in March, 4,169 in April and about 2,412 deliveries till date in May, of which about 359 patients tested positive for Covid-19 and have been treated in special facilities.

The BMC also submitted that revised guidelines have been issued on May 12 for testing asymptomatic expecting women who are expected to deliver in the next five days and if any of pregnant woman tests positive for coronavirus, it has been assured that all arrangements would be made for smooth delivery in other facilities available with BMC.

Sakhare also said there is a helpline number 1916 for Covid and non- Covid patients, including expecting women. However, petitioners submitted that there must be a separate helpline for pregnant women.

When the bench queried if such a separate helpline can be set up for pregnant women, Sakhare said that it would not be possible since 1916 helpline is assisted in three shifts by 12 doctors each.

After hearing submissions, the bench noted that subject to situation improving in future, BMC may explore possibility to provide exclusive helpline for pregnant women. The court also said that submissions made by the state and the BMC are sound and that there has not been any reported incident of negligence does not call for judicial intervention on the PIL.

The bench disposed of the PIL and said, “We express hope and trust that the State and Corporation shall continue in its efforts to ensure that expecting ladies are well attended to even in these testing times and that maximum care is taken so that not only the mother but the new born child does not face difficulties till such time normalcy is restored.”

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