At least 500 doctors have succumbed to the coronavirus disease in the country so far, according to the updated list of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on 2 October, which is nearly half of the number of claims either settled or under 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.
According to 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 exact number of doctors who lost their lives on line of duty.
The minister of state for health, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, recently said in Parliament that public health and hospitals came under states, so the Centre wasn’t maintaining any such database.
The only record that is being maintained is the number of compensations being processed under government’s insurance scheme for healthcare workers in this pandemic— Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana package.
On the COVID-19 media briefing on 22 September, 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.
“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.