High Court Closes PIL On Hepatitis Control In Nagaland - Eastern Mirror
Sunday, June 16, 2024

High Court closes PIL on Hepatitis control in Nagaland

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Jun 07, 2024 12:14 am
Says NVHCP properly implemented

KOHIMA — The Gauhati High Court, Kohima Bench, has decided to close a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) pertaining to the National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme (NVHCP) in Nagaland after five years.

A bench comprising Justice Devashis Baruah and Justice Budi Habung, in a judgment delivered on June 5, decided to close the case after noting that the necessary facilities had been provided by the authorities.

“We upon hearing the learned counsels are of the opinion that a perusal of the guidelines categorically states that free medical diagnosis and treatment both for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C would be made available in all levels of health care”, the court observed.

It further stated that Model treatment centers have been established in Kohima, Dimapur, Mokokchung, Tuensang, Zunheboto, Mon, Longleng, Kiphire, Phek, and Peren.

Therefore, if testing for complete blood count, liver function test, kidney function test, and any other test are required in connection with the prevention, diagnosis, and/or treatment of Hepatitis B and/or C, the said patients must be provided with free testing, the court added.

It further directed the State of Nagaland to keep the said Model Testing Centres fully functional so that patients can access the necessary facilities as provided under the NVHCP.

“Taking into account the above observation and directions and also taking into account that the NVHCP is properly implemented in the State of Nagaland, this Court finds no ground to continue with the instant Public Interest Litigation. Accordingly, the instant Public Interest Litigation stands closed”, the court ordered.

The court commended Neiteo Koza, the petitioners’ lawyer, for bringing the PIL to their attention and for the assistance provided by Mozhui and Yangerwati, lawyers for the respondents.

The PIL was filed in 2018 by the Access to Rights and Knowledge (ARK) Foundation and three others against the authorities of the Health and Family Welfare Departments in the state and the centre. The purpose of the PIL was to bring to the Court’s attention that adequate steps had not been taken by the respondent authorities to address the prevalence of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) in the state.

Additionally, the PIL aimed to ensure that testing and treatment of HCV (including essential diagnostics and medication i.e., DAAs, confirmation of chronic HCV with viral load testing, genotyping, etc.) were provided free of charge in the state at any accredited hospital; to identify and adequately publicise the names of hospitals, laboratories, medical stores, or any other relevant medical establishments that would provide free testing and treatment of HCV (including essential diagnostics and medication) in the state; to ensure that the Primary Health Centre and the Community Health Centre were adequately equipped and authorised for HCV antibody testing and referral to public hospitals for further treatment; to include all drugs for the treatment of HCV under the essential drug list of the State, etc.

The central government launched the NVHCP in July 2018 under the aegis of the National Health Mission, which was subsequently launched in the state. The programme aims to prevent and manage viral hepatitis by providing free diagnosis and treatment and achieve elimination of Hepatitis C by 2030, among other objectives.

In response to the court notice in the same year, the state health authorities provided details of the NVHCP program, its implementation in the state, and the challenges faced during the implementation process.

When the matter was taken up for hearing on Wednesday, the court observed: “It has been brought to the attention of this Court that since the filing of the Public Interest Litigation, various steps have been taken to provide the benefits in terms of the NVHCP. It was submitted that the said NVHCP is currently fully operationalised in the State of Nagaland and free treatment has been duly provided.”

By Reyivolü Rhakho Updated: Jun 07, 2024 12:14:15 am
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