Ensure safety of healthcare workers, strictly implement Epidemic Disease Act, Centre tells states
Kohima, June 18 (EMN): Amid reports of physical violence against healthcare workers across the country, the Union Health Ministry on Friday urged all the states to undertake a detailed review and ensure that prompt and necessary steps are taken for safety and wellbeing of healthcare workers, besides strict implementation of the amended Epidemic Disease Act.
Healthcare workers are the most crucial resources who are undertaking the battle of Covid-19 management at all fronts. The Ministry’s endeavours to manage Covid-19 so far are replete with examples of commitment shown by healthcare workers at all levels, it said.
‘While country at large has applauded the efforts done by the health fraternity, there were examples where they have been stigmatised and even violence is resorted to against the healthcare workers,’ it added.
The Ministry stated that it had highlighted the need to ensure safety and security of healthcare workers at their living and working premises on multiple occasions.
However, there have been reports of incidents of physical violence against doctors and other professionals/healthcare workers particularly from Assam, West Bengal and Karnataka.
“Such incidents impact the morale of our healthcare workforce who have shown exemplary commitment against all odds in Covid-19 management”, the Ministry said.
According to the Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Act, 2020, “whoever commits or abets the commission of an act of violence against healthcare service personnel; or causes damage or loss to any property” should be punished with imprisonment and with fine. Further, such offenses are cognizable and non-bailable.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) had earlier in May demanded Home Minister to ensure safety environment in hospital and protect the healthcare professionals in the pandemic against violence. The association, while quoting statistics, informed that over 75% of doctors across the country have faced at least some form of violence and 68.33% of the violence was committed by the patients’ attendants or escorts. But the numbers are understatement as all cases of violence are not reported.
In Nagaland too, incidents of discrimination and violence against healthcare workers were reported during the first wave of the pandemic.