The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has taken a strong objection to Health Minister Harsh Vardhan’s statement on Coronavirus in Parliament, which didn’t mention the death of healthcare workers due to COVID-19. Reacting sharply to it, the association said the Narendra Modi government’s attitude reeks of indifference. NDTV reported IMA on Wednesday published a list of 382 doctors who died due to the viral disease. IMA said, “We demand they be acknowledged and treated as martyrs. Their families and children deserve solace and from the government. IMA also urges the government to seek data from the representatives of nurses and other healthcare workers.”
On Tuesday, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey told the Rajya Sabha that health is a state subject and such data is not maintained at the central level. However, he said that the relatives of 155 healthcare staff, including 64 doctors, had sought relief under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package, an insurance scheme for health workers tackling the coronavirus.
The IMA finds it strange that after having formulated an unfriendly partial insurance scheme for the bereaved families to struggle with the ignominy of the government disowning them altogether stares at them, it said. According to the IMA Covid-19 data on September 16, as many as 2,238 doctors were infected with the disease and of the 382 lost their lives, a senior official of the doctors’ body said.
Referring to Vardhan statement, the IMA said the 19th paragraph acknowledges the contribution of healthcare workers during this pandemic, but “conceals” the morbidity and mortality of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers. Terming it “indifference”, the doctors’ body said, “Doctors suffer four times mortality of ordinary citizens and private practitioners suffer eight times mortality on the same scale.” The medical body said, “the youngest doctor to lose his life due to the coronavirus was 27 years old and the oldest was 85. To feign that this information doesn’t merit the attention of the nation is abominable. No nation has lost as many doctors and health care workers like India. This amounts to an abdication of duty and abandonment of the national heroes who have stood up for our people.”
If the government doesn’t maintain the statistics of the total number of doctors and healthcare workers infected by COVID- 19 and the statistics of how many of them sacrificed their life due to the pandemic, it loses the moral authority to administer the Epidemic Act 1897 and the Disaster Management Act.” “This also exposes the hypocrisy of calling them corona warriors on one hand and denying them and their families the status and benefits of martyrdom,” the IMA stated.
Last month, the IMA wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to provide adequate healthcare to frontline workers. Earlier, the health body had urged the prime minister to ensure that frontline healthcare workers and their families received proper treatment when infected. The group had also requested the government to extend state-sponsored medical and life insurance facilities to doctors in all sectors.
This was the second time the government faced criticism for not maintaining data on crucial subjects. The government had told Parliament it had no record of the number of migrants who died while making difficult journeys to their home states during the lockdown.