Dimapur, May 8: The Supreme Court on Saturday formed a National Task Force (NTF) to, among others, address issues relating to streamlining of oxygen allocation to States, review and suggest measures to ensure availability of essential drugs and medicines, and adopt remedial measures to ensure preparedness for future emergencies.
In an order passed by a bench of Justices DY Chandradhud and MR Shah, the apex Court stated that the 12-member NTF would be formed to facilitate public health response to COVID-19 based on scientific and specialised domain knowledge.
The task force of medical experts and doctors from across the country will have the Cabinet Secretary to the Union government as its convenor, it ordered.
Explaining the rationale behind setting up the NTF, the Court said that it will enable decision makers to have inputs which go beyond finding ad hoc solutions to present problems.
“Estimating projected needs is crucial to ensure that the country remains prepared to meet future eventualities, which will cause a demand for oxygen, medicines, infrastructure, manpower and logistics. The establishment of the Task Force will provide the Union Government with inputs and strategies for meeting the challenges of the pandemic on a transparent and professional basis, in the present and in future,” the order stated.
Terms of Reference
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 to arise 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.
The matter will he heard again on May 17.
Page News Service