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Government instructs States, UTs to take necessary actions to secure healthcare workers, after MHA order

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There will be nodal officers at State/ UT level as well as the district level, who will be available 24×7 to redress any safety issue on the functioning of medical professionals


The Secretary of Government of India has issued a letter to all the State Government, Union Territories and District Administrations and law enforcement authorities to take all necessary measure to ensure adequate protection to healthcare professionals and Frontline workers, and to prevent any violence against them.
The measures to be taken with regard to ensuring adequate protection to the entire healthcare community should be in consultation with the local chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), and the members of the IMA should be kept informed of the actions taken.
It has also requested to appoint nodal officers at State/ UT level as well as the district level, who will be available 24×7 to redress any safety issue on the functioning of medical professionals. And they will be authorised to take immediate and strict actions in case any incident of violence takes place. To ensure compliance at ground level, details of preventive measures taken and appointment of nodal officers should be widely publicised amongst the medical fraternity, including the local chapter of the IMA, as well as to the public at large. It has also requested that details of action taken by the State Government, UT administration should be informed to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Commenting on the letter issued by the Government, Dr Rajan Sharma, National President, IMA said, “We appreciate the timely action taken by the government, this will provide a sense of security to our entire healthcare community.”
The letter significantly mentions that during the pandemic situation due to a coronavirus, any single incidents of violence against healthcare professionals are likely to create a sense of insecurity amongst the entire healthcare community, hence the direction of the Supreme Court in WP (Civil) no 10795/2020 dated April 8, 2020, “The Government of India, respective State/Union Territories and respective Police authorities are directed to provide the necessary police security to the doctors and medical staffs in hospitals and places where patients who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or patients suspected of COVID-19, or those quarantined are housed. Necessary police security is also extended to doctors, medical staff who visit places to conduct screening of people to find out symptoms of the disease.” This the direction of the apex court of India was conveyed to MHA to all States/ UTs through a letter dated April 11, 2020.
The Letter of Ajay Bhalla, Chief Secretary, Government of India also informed about the Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act 2005 and requested to all States/ UTs and District authorities to invoke the provision of the Act, or any other law in force, to take strict penal actions the offenders, who obstruct government health officials, or other health professionals and/or related persons, who are authorised under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, in the discharge of their lawful services.

The letter also mentioned that a few heinous instances of unruly behaviour by people have also been reported in some parts of the country where 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. In such cases, adequate security should be provided and stringent actions should be taken against such offenders who obstruct the performance of the last rites of medical professionals or frontline healthcare workers.

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