Supreme Court constitutes National Task Force to look into oxygen distribution

Published: May 8,2021 05:16 PM

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The Supreme Court has set up a twelve-member National Task Force (NTF) to facilitate and public health response to COVID-19 based on scientific and specialised domain knowledge.

May 8, 2021: The Supreme Court has set up a twelve-member National Task Force (NTF) to facilitate and public health response to COVID-19 based on scientific and specialised domain knowledge.

The NTF which has medical experts and doctors from across the country as its members will be have Cabinet Secretary to the Union Government as its convenor.

The NTF would be specifically addressing issues relating to streamlining Oxygen allocation to different States, reviewing and suggesting measures to ensure availability of essential drugs and medicines and to adopt remedial measures to ensure preparedness for future emergencies.

The National Task Force which is being constituted in pursuance of the above suggestion shall consist of the following members.

(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, Delhi; 5 “Task Force”

(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); and

(xii) The Convenor of the National Task Force, who shall also be a member, will be the Cabinet Secretary to the Union Government. The Cabinet Secretary may nominate an officer not below the rank of Additional Secretary to depute for him, when necessary.

The Court further said that the Task Force would at liberty to draw upon the human resources of the Union Government for consultation and information, including the following:

(i) A member of Niti Aayog to be nominated by the Vice-Chairperson;

(ii) Secretary, Ministry of Human Affairs;

(iii) Secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade;

(iv) Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways;

(v) Director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi; (vi) Director General, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi;

(vii) Director General of Health Services; and

(viii) Director General, National Informatics Centre; and

(ix) Head, Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC).

The concerned Secretaries would be at liberty to nominate officers of the rank of Additional/Joint Secretary to depute for them. The Task Force is at liberty to formulate its modalities and procedure for working.

As per the Supreme Court order, the terms of reference of the National Task Force shall be to:

(i) Assess and make recommendations for the entire country based on the need for, availability and distribution of medical oxygen;

(ii) Formulate and devise the methodology for the allocation of medical oxygen to the States and UTs on a scientific, rational and equitable basis;

(iii) Make recommendations on augmenting the available supplies of oxygen based on present and projected demands likely during the pandemic;

(iv) Make recommendations for the periodical review and revision of allocations based on the stage and impact of the pandemic;

(v) Facilitate audits by sub-groups within each State and UT inter alia for determining:

(a) Whether the supplies allocated by the Union Government reach the concerned State/UT;

(b) the efficacy of the distribution networks in distributing supplies meant for hospitals, health care institutions and others;

(c) whether the available stocks are being distributed on the basis of an effective, transparent and professional mechanism; and

(d) accountability in regard to the utilisation of the supplies of oxygen allocated to each State/UT;

(vi) Review and suggest measures necessary for ensuring the availability of essential drugs and medicines;

(vii) Plan and adopt remedial measures for ensuring preparedness to meet present and future emergencies which may arise during the pandemic;

(viii) Facilitate the use of technology to ensure that the available manpower is optimised for implementing innovative solutions particularly in order to provide an outreach of expert medical care to rural areas;

(ix) Suggest measures to augment the availability of trained doctors, nurses and para-medical staff including by the creation of suitable incentives;

(x) Promote evidence based research to enhance effective responses to the pandemic;

(xi) Facilitate the sharing of best practices across the nation to promote knowledge about the management of the pandemic and treatment of cases; and

(xii) Generally, to make recommendations in regard to other issues of pressing national concern to find effective responses to the pandemic.