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IMA fumes as government fails to reveal COVID tally of healthcare staff

IANS Sep 17, 2020

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on September 16 said the government has lost its moral authority to administer the Epidemic Act and the Disaster Management Act after it failed to reveal the data on the number of healthcare staff who have been affected by and died from COVID-19, even as at least 382 doctors across the country have lost their lives in the line of duty so far.

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The scathing reaction by the IMA has come after the Health Minister could not come up with the number of fatalities occurred in the medical fraternity when asked by a politician in Parliament on September 15. Besides, the IMA has also released the data of the doctors who died due to COVID-19. "Health is a state subject. Such data is not maintained at Central level," the Health Minister had told the politician in a written reply.

In a reaction to the Health Minister's statement, IMA said, "if a government does not maintain the statistics of total number of doctors and health care 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."

The IMA also stated that the reply by the Health Minister also exposes the hypocrisy of calling the healthcare workers 'corona warriors' while denying them and their families the status and benefits of martyrdom. The IMA also informed that no nation has lost as many doctors and health care workers like India while sharing a list of doctors, 382 doctors lost their lives in the line of duty during the COVID-19. "Doctors suffered four times mortality of ordinary citizens, and private practitioners suffered eight times mortality on the same scale. To feign that this information does not merit the attention of the nation is abominable," they stated.

The apex body of medical associations also stated that healthcare workers' sacrifice is as great as the sacrifice of the soldiers as both of them lose their lives in the line of duty. It also added that treating these martyrs indifferently is national sacrilege and injustice of highest order.

"While the brave soldiers on the borders countenance the enemy, they do so with enormous risk to themselves. Yet none of them bring home the bullets to be shared with their families. On the contrary, doctors and health care workers not only get infected in the line of their national duty but also bring home the infection to their families, including children. To treat these martyrs indifferently is national sacrilege. To tell their (doctors) families and children to fend for themselves is an injustice of highest order," the IMA said.

The IMA also objected to the statement made by the Minister of State (MoS) for Ministry Health and Family Welfare, where he said that insurance compensation data is not available with the Union government in Parliament on September 15. The IMA said that this amounts to an abdication of duty and abandonment of the national heroes who have stood up for the whole country in the face of a global crisis. "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 added.

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