The Indian Medical Association said on Friday (October 2) that at least 500 doctors have died due to COVID-19 in the country. The doctor count is nearly half of the number of claims either settled or under process of being settled by the government to compensate such doctors.
“Our latest figures say 515 doctors treating COVID-19 patients have been martyred in the country. And these are all allopathic doctors that we have identified through our various branches of IMA — there are 1,746 branches functional across the country. The number could actually be much higher,” said Dr Rajan Sharma, IMA president.
According to the IMA database, the doctor-patient ratio is 1:194. A majority of doctors (201) were in the age group of 60 and 70 years, followed by 171 in the age bracket of 50-60 years. Above 70 years of age were 66 doctors, and 59 doctors were between 35 and 50 years of age. At least 18 doctors who died were less than 35 years of age.
The government has maintained that there is no central database to provide the exact number of doctors who died in line of duty.
Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey recently told Parliament that public health and hospitals came under states, so the Centre wasn’t maintaining any such database.
The only record being maintained is the number of compensations being processed under government’s insurance scheme for healthcare workers in this pandemic — Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana package.
On the COVID-19 briefing on September 22, secretary for health Rajesh Bhushan, had mentioned that 242 claims under the scheme had either been processed or were under process.
“We are closely monitoring the data under PM’s pandemic response package. There is an insurance cover amounting to ₹50 lakh for all frontline healthcare workers, and this has recently been extended till March 2021. Under this package, 62 claims have been settled, more than 130 claims are being processed… and above 50 claims are yet to come from states,” Bhushan had said.
That number is half of the number published by IMA.
“How can the Centre wash their hands of their responsibility? How is it possible that they cannot maintain a database at the central level when you need an Aadhaar Card to get tested for COVID-19 through reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test? How difficult can it get then?” asked Dr Sharma.