New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Friday directed AIIMS to provide free treatment to a two-year-old boy, suffering from Gaucher's disease, a genetic disorder.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher also issued notice to union health ministry, Delhi government and AIIMS and sought their response by May 5. It also asked the ministry to consider increasing the health budget.
The court was hearing a plea filed by a man turned away by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) as he was unable to pay Rs.4.75 lakh per month for his son Shiv's enzyme replacement therapy.
The plea also raised the question as to whether the government hospital is duty-bound under the constitution to give free treatment to all patients who cannot afford expensive medicines.
Advocate Ashok Agarwal, appearing for Vikas Sahu, said his client is a street-vendor of steel utensils earning around a meagre Rs.3,000 a month but being the sole bread earner for his family including his wife, parents and son Shiv.
Gaucher's disease is a genetic disorder which causes fat to accumulate in cells and certain organs and is characterised by bruising, fatigue, anaemia, low blood platelets and enlargement of the liver and spleen. Some forms of Gaucher's disease may be treated with enzyme replacement therapy.
"Shiv was diagnosed with the deadly disease about six months back. He is in a critical condition with hepatosplenomegaly (enlargement of liver and spleen) resulting in protrusion of abdomen so much so that the child is finding it difficult to breathe... He also has a stone in the kidney to worsen his situation," said the plea.
The plea added that the kid was recently admitted to AIIMS on Feb 10 and discharged on Feb 17 after receiving blood and platelets transfusion at least four to five times so far.
The doctors have recommended urgent initiation of enzyme replacement therapy to save his life, the plea said but the cost at Shiv's present weight is estimated at Rs.4.75 lakh per month and would increase with increase in his weight, it added.