Legal Interventions for Thalassemia patients in Jharkhand

Arun kumar Singh Vs. State of Jharkahnd & others | The high court of Jharkhand at Ranchi | Status: Pending | |

The Petitioners are patients of a genetic disease named Thalassemia which requires regular transfusion of blood within every 9-10 days. It is a hereditary condition involving abnormality in structure of hemoglobin. It must also be observed that Jharkhand has been declared as one of the endemic Zone for Thalassemia and records for more than 50000 cases. The Petitioners were not able to get the required blood units due to the non - availability of blood units and the poor infrastructure facility which lacks even basic health and hygiene norms. The state doesn’t have even a single hematologist, a specialist in blood related issues, in order to guide and treat patients. It is disheartening to find that there is no lab testing facility for the lack of manpower. The  petitioners along with other such patients have to undergo huge financial expenses together with the need to travel to a neighboring town only adding to the existing misery. The cost of maintaining health for such patients is quite high and the respondents untoward attitude, despite several demands have thrown the petitioners to led a stunted and unhealthy life. The patients have succumbed to many other ailments due to Thalassemia and are under the danger of their life.

The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare issued guidelines in January 2008 that no cost should be charged for the issue of blood or blood components to patients of Thalassemia who requires repeated blood transfusion. The petitioners are forced to pay extra money for the fact that the state doesn’t provide adequate reliefs and facilities to them. The National Blood Transfusion Council, MOH&FW had directed the professionals engaged in blood transfusion services to facilitate maintenance of adequate stocks of safe blood to meet requirements. The World Health Organization considers health as a basic fundamental right and therefore it must be appreciated.

Article 47 of the Indian Constitution states that the primary duty of the state is improvement of public health, extension of benefits pertaining to sickness, disability, old age and maternity and through this petition, it is submitted that the state has failed to perform its duty. Article 41 of the Indian Constitution provides for public assistance by state in special circumstances such as sickness, disability, old age etc. By letting the patients to visit private hospitals at an unreasonable payment shows that the respondents are reluctant to provide any kind of assistance. Through various Judicial pronouncements, the Apex Court has interpreted Article 21 liberally to extend its scope so as to include right to health as a fundamental right under part III of the Indian Constitution. In Bandhu Mukti Morcha v Union of India, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, inter alia, interpreted the dignity and health within the ambit of life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and it must be appreciated. 

 Therefore, the petitioners have consistently made efforts to contact the concerned authority ranging from civil surgeon to even the health ministry of the state Government but yet they didn’t receive any sort of help or assistance from the concerned authority and hence filed this petition. The petitioners are quite young mostly in their early 20’s and despite allocation of funds to respective districts annexed herein, there is no such relief provided to the patients suffering from Thalassemia. Thus, the petitioners have move before this Hon’ble High  Court of Jharkhand by way of this Public Interest Litigation for the special disabled friendly website.