382 doctors have died of COVID-19, the Indian Medical Association said (Representational)
Union health minister Dr Harshavadhan's statement on coronavirus in parliament, which had no word on the doctors who died in the line of duty, and his junior minister's statement that the Centre had no data as health is a state subject, has infuriated the Indian Medical Association. Accusing the government of "indifference", "abdication" and "abandonment of heroes", the country's top body of medical practitioners said in such a circumstance, the government "loses the moral authority to administer the Epidemic Act 1897 and the Disaster Management Act".
So far, 382 doctors have died of coronavirus, the IMA said. In the list it released, the youngest doctor to lose his life was 27 years old and the oldest was 85.
But while acknowledging the contribution of healthcare workers during the pandemic, the health minister made no mention of the medical professionals lost to the disease, the IMA said.
"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.
The IMA pointed to Union minister Ashwini Kumar Choubey's statement that the Union government does not have any compensation data as public health and hospitals comes under the states.
"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 statement read.
Such a circumstance also exposes the "hypocrisy of calling them corona warriors on one hand and denying them and their families the status and benefits of martyrdom," the IMA said.
In March, the Union Health Ministry had announced that 22.12 lakh public healthcare providers, including community health workers, will get Rs 50 lakh insurance cover under a national scheme.
This was the second time in two days that the government faced criticism over the lack of crucial data.
The Centre came under opposition criticism after asserting in a written response that it had no data on the migrant labourers who died during the lockdown and so any question on compensation "does not arise".
"If you haven't counted, have the deaths not taken place?" Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted.
Terming it "utter callousness", Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac tweeted, "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".