COVID-19: IMA shoots angry letter on govt statement about health worker deaths

Minister Ashwini Choubey had said Centre had no centralised data on how many healthcare workers had succumbed to COVID-19 as health was a state subject

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 16 September 2020

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) September 16, 2020, issued a strongly worded letter against the statement Union Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kr Choubey made in Parliament September 15, regarding the number of deaths of doctors due to novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Andhra Pradesh 42
Assam 10
Bihar 23
Chhattisgarh 3
Chandigarh 4
Delhi 12
Gujarat 38
Haryana 7
Himachal Pradesh 2
Jammu and Kashmir 1
Jharkhand 4
Karnataka 41
Madhya Pradesh 12
Maharashtra 35
Meghalaya 1
Odisha 8
Pondicherry 2
Punjab 5
Rajasthan 5
Tamil Nadu 60
Telangana 10
Uttar Pradesh 21
West Bengal 27

Choubey, in response to a query, had said there was no centralised data to suggest how many healthcare workers had succumbed to COVID-19 since health was a state subject.

All the Union government knew were applications the familes of 155 healthcare workers, including 64 doctors, had applied for relief under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package Insurance Scheme, Choubey said. Therefore, at least 155 personnel had died.

However, at least 382 doctors across the country had died while treating COVID-19 patients, according to the district-wise list released by the IMA on September 16 evening.

“To feign that this information doesn’t merit the attention of the the nation is abominable. If the government doesn’t 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 letter said.

It added this ignorance also exposed the hypocrisy of calling them ‘corona warriors’ on the one hand and denying them and their families the status and benefits of martyrdom.

The IMA said Choubey’s stand amounted to the abdication of duty. “The 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 letter read.

The government has so far never given any consolidate numbers on death of health care workers.

Though the ministry has consistently maintained it never had a consolidated figure on the number of healthcare workers dying, in a press conference two weeks ago, health ministry secretary Rajesh Bhushan had said the positivity rate among healthcare workers was very high, with Maharastra at the top with 16 per cent rate.

The positivity rate is the proportion of people testing positive out of the total number of people tested. Maharashtara was followed by Delhi (14 per cent), Karanataka (13 per cent), Puducherry (11 per cent) and Punjab (10 per cent).

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