The Union government has no clear data on the number of doctors or other healthcare workers who died in the course of COVID-19 duty in major Centrally-run hospitals in the country between 2020 and 2022 though over ₹200 crore had been disbursed as insurance compensation to their relatives.
This was revealed through replies to questions in Parliament and pleas filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The Indian Medical Association (IMA), however, maintains that it has a list of over 1,800 doctors who succumbed to the infection that was acquired while serving patients.
Bharati Pravin Pawar, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, while responding to an unstarred question in the Rajya Sabha, said on July 26 that “disaggregated data on deaths due to COVID-19 by profession or otherwise is not maintained centrally”. The Minister also said that the Union government provided comprehensive insurance of ₹50 lakh to healthcare providers, including community workers and private healthcare workers “who may have been in direct contact and care of COVID-19 patients and may be at risk of being impacted by this or due to accidental death on account of COVID-19 related duty” under ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package: Insurance Scheme for Health Care Workers Fighting COVID-19’.
According to official sources, 445 beneficiaries had been compensated under the scheme and the amount disbursed between January 27, 2020, and June 30, 2022, is ₹222.5 crore.
Replying to queries filed under the RTI Act, the Ministry told Kannur-based ophthalmologist K.V. Babu that it had no data on the healthcare workers who died at Lady Hardinge Medical College and Smt. Sucheta Kripalani Hospital and Vardhman Mahavir Jain Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital, both in New Delhi; All-India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Raipur, Chhattisgarh; Bathinda, Punjab; and Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh; and the North Eastern Indira Gandhi Regional Institute of Health and Medical Sciences, Shillong, Meghalaya. The authorities at the AIIMS at Patna in Bihar said in their reply that one doctor and two healthcare workers had died due to COVID-19 there.
Jayesh Lele, honourary secretary general, IMA, told The Hindu on Wednesday that the organisation had handed over a list of 1,800 doctors, who lost their lives to the pandemic till the third wave, to the Union government.
“But we have not received any communication on the number of those who died from the government. But they have paid compensation to the relatives of healthcare workers,” he added. Dr. Babu said that a majority of the doctors who died were working in the private sector in hospitals which are not designated or peripheral hospitals in the government sector. It seems there is no social security measures for a majority of them, he said .