Condemning the fact that Health Minister Harsh Vardhan did not mention the death of at least 382 healthcare workers due to COVID-19 in his statement in Parliament, the IMA on Wednesday (September 16) published a list of all the doctors who died due to the viral disease and demanded that they be treated as “martyrs”.
Accusing the central government of “indifference”, “abdication” and “abandonment of heroes”, the IMA said that in such instances, the government “loses the moral authority to administer the Epidemic Act 1897 and the Disaster Management Act”.
On MoS Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey’s statement that public health and hospitals come under states and so insurance compensation data is not available with the Centre, the doctors’ body said it amounts to “abdication of duty and abandonment of the national heroes who have stood up for our people”.
“The IMA (Indian Medical Association) 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 them 382 lost their lives, a senior official of the doctors’ body said.
Referring to Vardhan’s 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, “No nation has lost as many doctors and healthcare workers like India. Doctors suffer four times mortality of ordinary citizens and private practitioners suffer eight times mortality on the same scale.”
“To feign that this information doesn’t merit the attention of the nation is abominable. 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.
“The IMA also commends to the government they seek such data from the representatives of nurses and other healthcare workers,” the statement said. The doctors’ body said it had shared with the health ministry hundreds of suggestions and feedback during this national health emergency.
“The prime minister deemed it fit to invite the national president of IMA to a meeting to share the concerns and seek suggestions and cooperation. The suo moto statement of the health minister preferred to ignore the national dimension of the war against COVID-19,” it said in the statement.
The development comes after the Union Health Ministry had in March announced that 22.12 lakh public healthcare providers, including community health workers, will get ₹50 lakh insurance cover under a national scheme.
(With inputs from agencies)