‘Appeal’ by Gzb officials to restrict doctors, HCWs to Delhi draws criticism
The Ghaziabad municipal administration came under sharp criticism for appealing to residents’ welfare associations (RWAs) and local councillors to advise doctors and health care workers working in Delhi to stay there.
At the center of the controversy is a letter dated April 20 from Ghaziabad chief medical officer (CMO) Dr. N K Gupta to municipal commissioner Dinesh Chandra who subsequently addressed the letter to all zonal in-charges on May 5. They said the appeal was in order to control infections that may arise with contact from Covid-19 positive cases in the Capital.
Doctors, however, say that the wording of the appeal was not appropriate and at a time when there were attacks on health care workers across the country, their efforts must not be stigmatised. In light of those attacks, the central government had passed an ordinance that had heavy penalties against those who attacked front line workers and on Wednesday, the UP government followed it by toughening its laws against such attacks.
“The appeal was made so that doctors and health care workers who work in Delhi do not get infection and also the other members of public and their families (in their highrises or nearby places) do not get infected. This was an appeal and in the form of a request, which is non binding upon doctors and health care workers who are staying in Ghaziabad but serving in nearby Delhi,” said Dr NK Gupta, CMO. “There are number of cases in which doctors and even patients have acquired infection. Even our government doctors and health care workers in Covid-19 and quarantine duties, about 100, are staying away from their families for over more than one month. We have made arrangements for them in hotels, hostels, etc.”
Late on Thursday night, he issued another letter in which he specified that his original letter was an appeal and not binding. District magistrate Ajay Shankar Pandey did not take calls when contacted.
Municipal commissioner Dinesh Chandra said, “The communication is non-binding and in form of an appeal to the doctors and health care workers and issued in public interest.”
Earlier, the Ghaziabad administration had imposed more restrictions at the Ghaziabad-Delhi border areas citing reason that there were at least six cases in which people got infected after travelling to Delhi.
The members of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Ghaziabad held discussion with their members over the issue on Thursday and said that the doctors and health care workers were the front line soliders and infection comes as a professional hazard.
“The doctors and health care persons are taking best possible precautions about the infection. We feel that the issue should have been taken up at the government to government level (UP government and Delhi government) to make arrangements for doctors and health care workers and should not have been publicised. It should have been for other people involved in providing essential services,” said Dr. V B Jindal, president of IMA, Ghaziabad.
“We don’t want such a stigma which may be seen as discrimination. We feel that RWAs or the councillors should not be given such powers for restricting doctors or HCWs,” he added.
Jindal added that that doctors and HCWs should take extra precautions like sanitisation of their vehicles they use and even while using services like the elevators in highrises.
“We will also be holding discussions with Ghaziabad administration about the communication. If they are in the form of an appeal, the language should be more appropriate,” he added.
Colonel (retired) TP Tyagi, president of flat owners’ federation, said that all the districts in Delhi are in Red Zone and doctors and health care workers are prone to risk of getting infection.
“We feel that the local administration in Ghaziabad or the Delhi government should make for decent arrangement for their stay if it is essentially required. In case any residential building has number of doctors or health care workers, they should take extra precautions and share some inconvenience in light of public interest. Once the situation improves, the original practice can be restored,” he added.
Anil Sharma, the secretary of the federation of association of apartment owners said that the respective state governments should make arrangements for doctors and health care workers.
“It seems that the local administration, rather than acting on their own, is trying to pass on the responsibility on to the RWAs to stop healthcare persons,” he added.