Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Wednesday appealed to doctors to not even hold a symbolic protest and assured them of security amid attacks on healthcare workers handling COVID-19 cases across the country.
Amit Shah along with Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan and other officials interacted with doctors and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) through video conferencing today.
The Government has assuered the doctors of full support and security.
The call comes two days after the IMA demanded a special central law on violence against doctors, nurses, health care workers, and hospitals by an ordinance.
Following the meeting, Amit Shah, in a tweet, praised the doctors and urged people to cooperate with them in this fight against COVID-19.
Health Minister @drharshvardhan and I interacted with doctors & representatives of IMA through video conferencing.
The way our doctors are performing their duties in these testing times is exceptional. I urge every Indian to cooperate with doctors in this fight against COVID-19. pic.twitter.com/DCHONTWNs3
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) April 22, 2020
In another tweet, the home minister said that the “safety and dignity of doctors at their workplace is non-negotiable.” Shah further said that he has assured the doctors that the Modi government is committed to their cause and appealed to reconsider their proposed protest.
Safety and dignity of our doctors at their work place is non-negotiable. It is our collective responsibility to ensure conducive atmosphere for them at all times.
I have assured doctors that Modi govt is committed to their cause and appealed to reconsider their proposed protest. pic.twitter.com/AJcxghGRkx
— Amit Shah (@AmitShah) April 22, 2020
The medical body in a letter dated April 20 said that it has maintained utmost restraint and patience in spite of extreme provocations. It said that doctors have been abused, beaten up, denied entry and residence. “Obstruction to cremation is the last straw that IMA can bear,” it added.
The body of a 56-year-old Nellore-based doctor, who succumbed to COVID-19 in a private hospital in Vanagaram near Chennai, was not allowed cremation by residents, fearing the spread of coronavirus. At the burial ground, the deceased and his family and friends were met with sticks and stones.
The IMA Tamil Nadu had condemned the incident and claimed such incidents leave doctors demoralised.
“If dignity is denied even in death, our patience and restraint lose their value,” the letter said.
The letter further stated that all doctors and hospitals will observe a ‘white alert’ at 9 pm on April 22, wherein, the healthcare workers will light a candle as protest and vigil.
The IMA also called for the implementation of a central law on violence against doctors, failing to which, it said April 23 would be declared as a ‘Black Day’, wherein, all doctors in the country will work with black badges.
— Indian Medical Association (@IMAIndiaOrg) April 20, 2020
Amid a rise in incidents of attacks on healthcare workers, the AIIMS Resident Doctors Association (RDA) had earlier written to the Union Home Minister appealing for the implementation of the Health Services Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of Violence and Damage to Property) Bill.
In the letter, the doctors’ body also highlighted seven instances where doctors were assaulted while on duty for COVID-19.
The letter said that despite advisory issued by the home ministry to ensure protection to doctors, multiple instances of violence have been happening across the country. The doctors stated that they are not scared of infections as that of being assaulted and abused by the very people they treat and also termed the situation as an “emerging unforeseen occupational hazard”.
The attacks come even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Health Minister as well as Home Minister have repeatedly appealed to the people of the country to respect the corona warriors, who are at the frontline of the fight against Coronavirus.