‘Only one PET scanner for one crore population’
JAMMU, Dec 8: In a contempt petition filed by Advocate AV Gupta in Public Interest Litigation seeking basic facilities for treatment of cancer in the State, Division Bench of State High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Tashi Rabstan has expressed displeasure over the act of the Government and directed Principal Secretary Health and Medical Education Department to appear in person on December 24.
While giving direction for personal appearance, Division Bench, after hearing Advocate Ajay Sharma appearing for the contempt petition, observed, “it is unfortunate that even the court orders and pendency of the present contempt petition has not moved the State Government to undertake necessary action for procurement of the PET scan machines”.
“In a province which has the population of more than one crore it is difficult to comprehend as to why only one PET scan machine is being installed. The respondents do not appear to have considered the importance of the PET scan machines or the fact that the State covers an extensive geographical area and difficult topography and it may not be possible for the people living in remote areas to physically travel to undertake diagnostic steps or the follow up for the purposes of effective treatment”, the DB further observed.
Vide order dated 17th February, 2016 the State Government was directed to get the services of Oncologists from neighbouring States and ensure availability of PET scan machines in all the Medical Colleges. For implementation of these directions sufficient time was granted by the High Court.
“These directions were not complied with resulting in filing of the present contempt petition and on 7th September, 2017 this court was informed by filing statement of facts by the respondents that the establishment of PET scan was under active consideration and that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India had sanctioned two State Cancer Institutes–one each at SKIMS, Soura and Government Medical College, Jammu at a cost of Rs 240.00 crores”, the DB observed, adding “on 20th December, 2017, Dr Pawan Kotwal, the then Principal Secretary to Government, Health and Medical Education Department informed this court that a PET/CT machine stood installed at SKIMS and was ready for commissioning with all requisite medical staff”.
The DB further observed, “so far as Jammu is concerned the equipment had not been procured because of the project itself had not been sanctioned by the Government of India. In this regard, Sandeep Gupta, CGSC has drawn our attention to the status report filed on 17th September, 2018, wherein it has been stated that the proposal was examined in the Ministry in consultation with Directorate General of Health Services and several deficiencies were observed. Rest of the status report points out failure of the Government to complete the necessary formalities”.