The Centre has asked states and Union Territories to quickly process claims under the ₹50-lakh insurance scheme for frontline healthcare workers engaged in COVID-19 duties as the cover is available till September.
In a letter to the states and UTs, Union Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan asked them to accord top priority to the security and well-being of healthcare providers, medical staff and frontline workers.
He also told them to initiate deterrent action against the perpetrators of violence against frontline COVID-19 workers under the Epidemic Disease (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020.
“In the last six months, the central government and states have tackled COVID-19 pandemic and have gained valuable experience.
“One of the important learnings has been the critical importance of securing and safeguarding our frontline healthcare workers,” Bhushan said in his letter.
The Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance Scheme for Health Workers Fighting COVID-19 was announced to provide ₹50-lakh insurance cover for public healthcare providers and private hospital staff/retired/volunteer/local urban bodies/ contract/ daily wage/ad-hoc/outsourced staff requisitioned for COVID-19 work including community health workers, who may have been in direct contact and care of coronavirus patients.
The scheme also includes accidental loss of life on account of contracting COVID-19.
“Since this insurance coverage is available till September 2020, all states are expected to quickly process such claims and send them to this ministry/insurance company on a priority basis,” Bhushan wrote to additional chief secretaries and health secretaries of states.
The Union Health Secretary also asked the states and UTs to ensure equitable distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) among healthcare workers citing these are available in adequate quantity.
He underscored the need for timely payment of salaries and honorariums to healthcare workers and asked states to explore various rostering options for doctors and paramedics to avoid fatigue among them.
Bhushan also highlighted the use of hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis against COVID-19 among frontline workers who could be potentially exposed to the disease be complied with.
“I urge you to ensure that all necessary interventions for securing and safeguarding the well-being of our frontline healthcare workers who are sincerely engaged in fighting the pandemic must be implemented,” he added.