The Ministry of Home Affairs, through its secretary has issued a comprehensive advisory on Wednesday to the chief secretaries of all the States in India for ensuring adequate protection to the healthcare and frontline workers.
Reference was made in the letter to all the previous Home Ministry advisories issued so far requesting chief secretaries/ administrators / Directors General of Police of all the State Government/ Union Territory Administrations to ensure adequate protection to healthcare professionals, medical staff and frontline workers by augmentation their safety and security cover.
The advisory follows the Home Minister Amit Shah’s meeting with the Indian Medical Association yesterday and the Union Government issuing an Ordinance to make attacks on Health Professional a non- bailable offence with punishment upto 7 years.
It is observed by the Central Government that in spite of said communications made to the State Authorities, still some incidents of violence were reported from different parts of the country against healthcare professionals/frontline workers. “At this time, any single incident of violence against healthcare professionals is likely to create a sense of insecurity amongst the entire healthcare community,” said letter.
The attention was drawn in the letter to the Supreme court directions in Writ petition:
“The Government of India, respective States/ Union Territories and respective Police authorities are directed to provide the necessity Police security to the Doctors and medical staff in Hospitals and places where patients who been diagnosed with COVID19 or patients suspected of COVID-19or those quarantined are housed. Necessary Police security be also extended to Doctors and other medical staff who visits places to conduct screening of people to find out symptoms of disease.”
In the view of the Apex court’s direction, Home Secretary talks about the responsibility of the State Government and its authorities to ensure adequate protection to the healthcare professionals and frontline workers and to prevent any incident of violence against them and also the members of IMA (Indian Medical Association) should be kept apprised of the actions taken to create a sense of security and confidence amongst the health fraternity.
Home Secretary of Central Government emphasized upon section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 which provides for strict penalties against any person who obstructs any officer or employee of the Central Government or State Government, or a person authorized by the National Authority or State Authority or District Authority in the discharge of his functions under this Act or refuses to comply with any direction given by or on behalf of the Central Government or the State Government or the National Executive Committee or the State Executive Committee or the District Authority.
He urged to all the State/UT and District Authorities to invoke the provisions of the Act, or any other law in force, to take penal action against the offenders, who obstruct Government health officials, or other health professionals and/ or related persons, who are authorized under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, in the discharge of their lawful services.
Another incident was highlighted by him through the letter in which the family and relatives of medical professionals, suspected to have died due to COVID-19 infection were prevented from performing the last rites of the deceased and therefore, he asked to take stringent action against such offenders.
In conclusion, the Home Secretary asked the State Government and its authorities to appoint nodal officers who would be available 24×7 to redress any safety issue on the functioning of medical professionals and also said that the preventive measure they would be taking should be widely publicized amongst the medical fraternity, including the local chapters of the IMA.