After GP’s death, Mumbai’s pvt doctors seek life insuranceUpdated: Apr 28, 2020 16:52 IST
Although it has been days since a 36-year-old general physician (GP) succumbed to Covid-19, which he may have contracted from the Covid-positive patients he had been treating, the state health department is yet to declare any compensation amount for the GP. The GP was a private practitioner. Private practitioners have demanded that the life insurance scheme announced by the Union health ministry should be extended to doctors with private practices who are treating Covid-19 patients.
The doctor, who passed away on April 22, used to run a clinic in Shivaji Nagar, which is a hotspot for Covid-19. He was among those who kept their clinics open as per the protocols of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. The deceased doctor’s brother said, “I haven’t received any call from the state health department or the corporation [BMC] about any insurance or compensation.”
Private medical practitioners have alleged a bias against private doctors on part of the government. In early April, the Union health ministry had announced a Rs 50 lakh insurance cover for doctors, nurses and other frontline medical workers. It remains unclear whether the insurance cover will be offered to private practitioners who are treating Covid-19 patients.
Former president of the Mahim-Dharavi Medical Practitioner Association Dr Sanjeev Khosla said, “In a pandemic situation, where doctors are being asked to open up their clinics without proper source of protective gear, the government needs to bring private practitioners under the insurance schemes.” He further added that private practitioners were among “the most vulnerable group” as many infected patients approach these doctors first and are then referred a hospital dedicated to treating Covid-19.
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) instructed private clinics to remain open, as per the conditions of the Epidemic Diseases Act, since there is a shortage of medical professionals. On Monday, the civic body requested the Mahim-Dharavi Medical Practitioner Association to open 350 clinics to screen and identify possible patients in Dharavi, where almost 300 Covid-positive cases have been diagnosed.
So far, five more medical professionals have tested positive for the virus in Shivaji Nagar and around 500 clinics have been forced to shut down in the ward because the doctors don’t have protective gear.
“In the state, 80% of patients are asymptomatic, so we don’t even know if the patient is infected. This is a pandemic situation and even private non-Covid doctors are indirectly standing at the frontline, getting exposed to the virus,” said Dr Avinash Bhondwe, state president (Maharashtra) of the Indian Medical Association.
Despite repeated calls, Rajesh Tope, the state health minister, could not be reached for comment.