Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The families of only 168 doctors, out of at least 756 who have laid down their lives in the line of COVID-19 duty in India so far, may have benefited from the Rs 50 lakh insurance coverage provided by the Centre, according to data by the Indian Medical Association.
It means that only about 1 in every five doctors who have succumbed to the infectious disease got their claims settled, under the scheme announced for nearly 22 lakh healthcare workers last year.
As only 287 claims have been processed under the scheme, it also suggests that only 119 healthcare workers across other categories have so far benefited under it.
The Centre has in response to questions in Parliament said on several occasions that it does not have data of either doctors or other healthcare workers who have died while performing COVID-19 duties.
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The IMA, the largest body of doctors in India, on Monday also demanded that the insurance scheme under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package, which was announced last year but has now come to an end, be extended for at least 6 more months.
After a letter by health secretary Rajesh Bhushan to states surfaced, in which he said the insurance coverage was coming to an end on March 24 this year, the Union ministry of health and family welfare clarified that the government is now in talks with another insurance company for the extension of the scheme.
It also said that the scheme has been extended till April 24 while details of a further extension are being worked out.
“PMGKP was announced in March 2020 and was extended thrice till 24 April, 2021,” said the ministry. “It was launched to provide a safety net to health workers to ensure that in case of any adversity due to Covid19, their families are taken care of,” the government said.
The ministry added that a total of 287 claims have been paid by the insurance company so far and a “a new dispensation will be provided to cover the Corona warriors, for which the ministry is in talks with the insurance company (New India Insurance)”.
The IMA meanwhile said it was due to “stringent norms and the continued apathy in various administrative ladders” that only 168 modern medicine doctors could receive benefits under the scheme.
The association asked, in a letter to Bhushan, to extend the PMGKP insurance for another six months, expedite and ease out the procedural bottlenecks and ensure that all healthcare professionals are “recognised, honoured as martyrs and adequately compensated for their dedicated services and comfort for their families with motherly attitude.”