New Delhi: After declaring in Parliament that the government has no data on the number of migrant deaths after the sudden lockdown on March 25, the Narendra Modi government has made another shocking announcement – it has no data on the number of doctors and health workers who died on the frontlines of the COVID-1- battle.
The government’s statement, understandably, has raised the hackles of the medical fraternity, with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) hitting out at the government for “abandoning” the “corona warriors.”
Upset with the government, IMA even listed the 382 doctors who had died of coronavirus, adding that youngest doctor to lose his life was 24 years old and the oldest was aged 86.
It may be recalled that a few days ago, the IMA had written to the government seeking “martyr” status for doctors who died on the COVID-19 line of duty, at part with soldiers.
On Wednesday, a day after Union health minister Harsh Vardhan’s statement on COVID-19 in Parliament wherein he failed to even mention the stellar role of doctors and healthcare workers, his junior minister, Ashwini Chaubey informed the House that the Centre had no data on the number of doctors who had died during COVID-19, saying that health was a state subject.
The IMA reacted strongly to the Minister’s statement, falying it for “indifference” and “abdication” as also “abandonment of heroes” and released a list of 382 deceased doctors.
“IMA hereby publishes the list of Indian doctors who died in the pandemic due to Covid 19. 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,” IMA president Rajan Sharma wrote to the government, according to a report in The Tribune.
The IMA also said that if this is the case, the government "loses the moral authority to administer the Epidemic Act 1897 and the Disaster Management Act".
"To feign that this information doesn't merit the attention of the nation is abominable," the IMA statement read. "It appears that they are dispensable. No nation has lost as many doctors and health care workers like India," the statement added, as per a report in The Tribune.
On junior minister Chaubey saying that the government does not have any compensation data as public health and hospitals fall under the states, the IMA said: "This amounts to abdication of duty and abandonment of the national heroes who have stood up for our people. 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."
The association also reportedly mocked the government, blaming it for "hypocrisy” wherein healthcare workers are named “corona warriors but are being denied any insurance compensation or benefits of martyrdom".
It may be recalled that in March, the Union Health Ministry had announced that 22.12 lakh public healthcare providers, including community health workers, would get Rs 50 lakh insurance cover under a national scheme.
Not just doctors, there are lakhs of healthcare personnel, including nurses, ASHA workers, who are risking their lives in the battle against coronavirus. Many of them have also died I the line of duty, yet there have been growing complaints of negligence, no compensation and even delayed salaries.
The Modi government has faced fire from the Opposition in the Monsoon session of Parliament for not maintaining any data on migrant worker deaths, thereby denying any compensation to hundreds of families who have lost their only earning members due the sudden unplanned lockdown announced by the Prime Minister.
"If you haven't counted, have the deaths not taken place?" Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had tweeted.
Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac tweeted on Tuesday, "Centre doesn't care about deaths of migrant workers they caused by pushing them in to trains, makeshift carts and on foot to the distant homes".