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Consider separate helpline for pregnant women during lockdown : Bombay HC

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The Times Of India
22nd May, 2020 16:55 IST

MUMBAI : Bombay high court on Friday said BMC and the state government in future may consider setting up a separate helpline for pregnant women.

The suggestion by a bench of chief justice Dipankar Datta and justice S S Shinde, was made even while it accepted that the civic body and the government have taken adequate measures for treating pregnant women during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The court heard , via videoconference, a public interest litigation, by advocate Mohiuddin Vaid that referred to a news clip about a pregnant woman in labour denied admission for delivery on April 27, 2020 to J J Hospital as she did not carry a Covid negative report. Vaid urged for appropriate measures so that expectant mothers can be attended to during the pandemic.

The State government's reply denied the incident. It gave details of the admissions and deliveries on that date and also listed the protocol followed during the pandemic when a pregnant woman comes to the J J Hospital casualty. Assistant government pleader Jyoti Chavan, alongwith government pleader Poornima Kantharia, said at JJ and Cama hospitals non-Covid pregnant women have also been attended to.

BMC's reply gave a list of maternity homes and clinics attending to Covid and non-Covid patients and the number of deliveries carried out. Senior advocate Anil Sakhare, for BMC, said there is a dashboard on its website with the list of hospitals. He also said there is helpline 1916. But Vaid submitted that there must be a separate helpline only for pregnant women.

To the judges' query if a separate helpline can be set up for pregnant women, Sakhare said it is not possible. He explained that the 1916 helpline is assisted in three shifts each by 12 doctors. Chavan also said 1916 is the only helpline for Greater Mumbai and the government would not want to create confusion as health is primarily looked after by BMC. She said the State runs four hospitals - JJ, St George, GT and Cama and Albless.

Accepting both statements, judges disposed of the PIL. However, in their order, they noted that in future, BMC and the State government may consider setting up a separate helpline for pregnant women.

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