Sikkim HC, on the non-availability of vaccines for the scanty population in the state

non-availability of vaccines

The north-eastern states of India have been neglected to a great extent, in several matters, by several industries including media and medical industries. Sometimes, the same has also been done by the politicians of the state. However, the Hon’ble High Court of the state of Sikkim has recently noted that the non-availability of vaccines, medicines, beds and other facilities in the state is not only a serious problem but also an unacceptably weird one. The small state has a meagre population of seven lakh people only. A vaccine stock of fourteen lakh will be enough for such a population. Yet the state authorities have been unsuccessful in arranging the same which is shameful. The age group of 18-44 age stands at the worst stage in this matter. The judgement was passed by Justices Meenakshi Madan Rai and Bhaskar Raj Pradhan. The Hon’ble court also urged the state authorities to organize a proper plan for the management of the upcoming third wave of covid 19. The plan should be envisaged at the earliest and the common man should be well-informed about the same via advertisements and awareness campaigns organized by the government. This is the least amount of preparedness that can be expected of a state government.

The mortality rates of the state, in comparison to its population, are daunting. The court has also noted that the current economic status of the state is at its worst. Since the pandemic has forced everyone to be at home, tourism: the main business of the state has taken a backseat. During such tough times, the non-availability of vaccines and medicines for covid positive as well as negative patients is a problematic situation for the people of the state. 

It has been reported that the number of beds and vaccines for covid patients in northern Sikkim is exceptionally low. Similarly, the number of beds for ICU patients in southern Sikkim stands at zero. The division bench has ordered the arrangement of additional medical facilities for the general patients as well. 

The state respondents have been ordered to arrange for Mobile Testing Laboratories and RT-PCR report testing labs for the population at the earliest. It is a known fact the state of Sikkim is prone to landslides, earthquakes, and heavy downpours. In case of such natural irregularities, the testing and treatments of the patients cannot be put on a halt. Therefore, testing laboratories and beds must be arranged in all four districts at the earliest so that the time of transportation and the difficulty involved in the same can easily be avoided. The bench has also asked the state to organize VRDL facilities within ninety days from the passing of the order. 

The second wave of the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the entire nation and has stalled the lives of millions. The preparedness, precautions, and methods of recovery are being questioned every day. The effectiveness and availability of the different vaccines are also being doubted. During such times, the role of the judiciary and the government in framing and implementing plans to deal with the spread of the virus cannot be ignored.