A 12-member National Task Force has been set up by the Supreme Court to assess availability and distribution of medical oxygen – on scientific, rational and equitable basis – across the country.
A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud set up the national task force to make assessment, recommend need and distribute oxygen throughout India.the task force will also suggest measures to ensure similarly rational and equitable availability of medicines needed to treat COVID-19, and provide inputs, based on members’ scientific and specialised knowledge, to meet others challenges to have been raised by the Covid pandemic.
The panel contains 10 doctors and the convener of the panel will be the cabinet secretary to the Centre. The secretary to the health ministry is also part of the 12-member committee formed by the Supreme Court.
Sources told media Supreme Court judges spoke personally to each member of the task force, which is expected to begin work within a week. Reports will be submitted to the centre and the court, but its recommendations will be sent directly to the Supreme Court.
The court has directed the centre to provide the necessary assistance and said that all stakeholders – from state governments to hospitals – must co-operate.
The task force will have an initial tenure of six months.
12 Members of the National Task Force:
i) Dr Bhabatosh Biswas, Former Vice Chancellor, West Bengal University of Health Sciences, Kolkata
(ii) Dr Devender Singh Rana, Chairperson, Board of Management, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, Delhi
iii) Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairperson and Executive Director, Narayana Healthcare, Bengaluru
(iv) Dr Gagandeep Kang, Professor, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu
(v) Dr JV Peter, Director, Christian Medical College, Vellore, Tamil Nadu
(vi) Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairperson and Managing Director, Medanta Hospital and Heart Institute, Gurugram
(vii) Dr Rahul Pandit, Director, Critical Care Medicine and ICU, Fortis Hospital, Mulund (Mumbai, Maharashtra) and Kalyan (Maharashtra);
(viii) Dr Saumitra Rawat, Chairman & Head, Department of Surgical Gastroenterology and Liver Transplant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital
(ix) Dr Shiv Kumar Sarin, Senior Professor and Head of Department of Hepatology, Director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Science (ILBS), Delhi
(x) Dr Zarir F Udwadia, Consultant Chest Physician, Hinduja Hospital, Breach Candy Hospital and Parsee General Hospital, Mumbai
(xi) Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India (ex officio member)
(xii) The Convenor of the National Task Force, who shall also be a member, will be the Cabinet Secretary to the Centre
The Supreme Court also allowed audit of medical oxygen to examine supply and efficacy of distribution of oxygen by the government of national capital territory of Delhi (GNCTD). Dr Randeep Guleria, Dr Sandeep Budhiraja and one IAS officer each from Centre and Delhi government, will comprise the audit group for Delhi.
The country since the onset of the second wave saw hospitals in its major cities face severe oxygen shortage which led to deaths of hundreds of patients. Major hospitals in Delhi last month moved the Supreme Court and the Delhi high court citing lack of oxygen which led to deaths of patients.