Being trapped inside PPE suits, battling the fear of contracting Covid-19 and not meeting children, spouses, or parents for weeks. At least 500 doctors have succumbed to the Covid-19 in the country so far, according to the updated list of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Friday.
It is nearly half of the number of claims either settled or under the process of being settled by the government to compensate Covid-19 doctors who have lost their lives due to the viral infection.
“Our latest figures say 515 doctors treating Covid-19 patients have been martyred in the country so far. And these are all allopathic doctors that we have identified through our various branches of IMA — there are 1,746 branches functional across the country. The number could actually be much higher,” said Dr. Rajan Sharma, president, IMA.
#IMA dedicates the sacrifice of 515 Indian #Doctors in the fight against #COVID19 pandemic to the nation. We salute these #martyrs.We salute all the nurses and the healthcare workers who sacrificed their lives as well. pic.twitter.com/eDyQP5ZjiI
— Indian Medical Association (@IMAIndiaOrg) October 2, 2020
According to the IMA database, the doctor-patient ratio is 1:194. A majority of doctors (201) were in the age group of 60 and 70 years, followed by 171 killed in the age bracket of 50 to 60 years. Above 70 years of age were 66 doctors, and 59 doctors were between 35 and 50 years of age. At least 18 doctors who died were less than 35 years of age.
The government, however, has maintained that there is no central database to provide the exact number of doctors who lost their lives in the line of duty.
The minister of state for health, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, also recently said in Parliament that public health and hospitals came understates, so the Centre wasn’t maintaining any such database.
The only record that is being maintained is the number of compensations being processed under the government’s insurance scheme for healthcare workers in this pandemic— Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana package.
On the Covid-19 media briefing on September 22, the Union secretary for health, Rajesh Bhushan, had mentioned that 242 claims under the scheme had either been processed or were under process.
“We are closely monitoring the data under PM’s pandemic response package. There is an insurance cover amounting to ₹50 lakh for all frontline health care workers, and this has recently been extended till March 2021. Under this package, 62 claims have been settled, more than 130 claims are being processed… and above 50 claims that are yet to come from states,” Bhushan had said.
Even that number is half of the number published by IMA.
While an increasing number of doctors are getting infected and losing their lives every day, a substantial number of them have been found to be general practitioners.
Since a significant proportion of the population consults general practitioner due to fever and its related symptoms, they remain the first point of contact as well as care, the doctors’ body.
— Indian Medical Association (@IMAIndiaOrg) May 22, 2020
Earlier, Dr. R V Asokan, Secretary-General, IMA, said the mortality rate among doctors due to Covid-19 has reached an “alarming proposition” now.
“Saving each and every life of a doctor will ensure the safety of thousands of patients who depend on their care. Doctors who have died in the line of their professional duty merit favorable consideration for succor and solace to their families. It is thus pertinent for the IMA to also draw your attention to the demoralizing effect to our healthcare community,” he said.
— Indian Medical Association (@IMAIndiaOrg) July 15, 2020
“How can the Centre wash their hands of their responsibility. How is it possible that they cannot maintain a database at the central level when you need an Aadhar Card to get tested for Covid-19 through reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test? How difficult can it get then?” said Dr. Sharma.