Families of 120 of 121 doctors who died of COVID-19 in Bihar yet to get compensation

The delay in compensation have demoralised doctors who are living in fear after the recent spate of deaths in the state

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Friday 14 May 2021
Family of 120 of 121 doctors who succumbed to COVID-19 in Bihar not compensated. Photo: WIkimedia Commons

The family of only one of the 121 doctors in Bihar, who died of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) since last year, has received government compensation while the rest await the same. The delay has demoralised doctors in the state who have been in the frontline in the fight against the pandemic for about 17 months.

Of the 121 deceased, 74 succumbed to the infection during the ongoing second wave and 47 during the first wave last year, according to the Indian Medical Association, Bihar, which has been demanding compensation for deceased medical staff.

The central government had announced a compensation of Rs 50 lakh and the state government of Rs 4 lakh to family members of a doctor who succumbed to COVID-19 infection.

The apathy of both the central and state governments for doctors who have died performing their duty has been disclosed, said Dr Sunil Kumar, secretary of IMA Bihar. “It appears that both governments have forgotten their own announcement of compensation to families of doctors.”

Death of 74 doctors in the last 25 days has instilled fear in the minds of the frontline workers. There were reports from three medical colleges and hospitals in Pawapuri, Bettiah and Madhepura where doctors have stopped going to duty. The danger of getting infected is higher this year, said Dr Kumar.

As on Wednesday, Bihar had 99,623 active cases, with 9,863 additions. IMA Bihar has urged the state health minister Mangal Pandey to redress the grievances at the earliest.

Bihar has been facing an acute shortage of doctors. The government has recently announced that it will recruit 1,000 doctors and interview for the same commenced on May 10.

The family of Dr Rati Raman Jha, a civil surgeon in Samastipur who died of COVID-19 in July last year, was the only one to receive compensation. Relatives of Dr Avinash Kumar, the first doctor to die of the infection in Bihar in June last year, or the 119 others who have died since, haven’t been as lucky.  

IMA failed to understand the criteria of the governments to provide said compensation, said Dr Kumar. “On behalf of IMA, we have submitted memorandum to Bihar government seven to eight times to provide compensation to the families of all the doctors who died of COVID-19.”

A copy of the letter demanding compensation was sent to CM Nitish Kumar, health minister Mangal Pandey and principal secretary of health department several times, Kumar added. Unfortunately, neither did they receive a response nor was any progress made.

IMA has also demanded the state health department raise the compensation amount to Rs 20 to 25 lakh.

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