KATHMANDU, April 1: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed private hospitals to provide treatment to COVID-19 patients on condition that the hospitals would be compensated by the government for the costs involved.
A single bench of Justice Manoj Kumar Sharma issued the order on Tuesday in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) after the private hospitals refused to treat COVID-19 suspects. Advocate Pushpa Paudel filed the petition representing the SCBA.
They cannot shirk the responsibility of treating patients under any circumstances, the bench said.
The apex court also directed the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers to arrange medical persons, nurses, ambulances, cleaning staff as well the necessary equipment for facilitating the treatment of COVID-19 patients and also arrange insurance coverage for the doctors and frontline health workers.
Citing the constitutional provision which ensures every citizen the right to health care, the apex court said the private hospitals must provide treatment to coronavirus patients.
The apex court also summoned the government authorities—the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Health and the Home Affairs—to attend the court on April 5 to discuss whether an interim order is necessary to address other demands of the petitioner such as release of inmates against the surety of their family members and providing relief to the citizens under the lockdown. The bench also stated that it will hear all the writ petitions related to the COVID-19 pandemic collectively.
In the writ petition, the SCBA has also demanded that the government should provide masks and sanitizers to all citizens and supply essentials including foodgrain, vegetables and milk among other things through fair price shops. The petitioner has also demanded an apex court order to the government to promulgate an ordinance if the existing legal provisions are not sufficient for tackling with the coronavirus pandemic.