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RTI reply reveals that only 29% of doctors died during Covid compensated under PMGKP

New Delhi: In reply to an RTI filed by Kannur-based ophthalmologist Dr K V Babu seeking information on the total number of beneficiaries who have received compensation under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP) scheme launched on March 30, 2020, it has been revealed that only 29 per cent of families of doctors who succumbed to COVID-19 during the first and second waves have been compensated by the government so far. As per the RTI reply the government has paid compensation to 475 families of doctors so far and as per the data available with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) total numbers of doctors who died during the pandemic was over 1500 deaths. Under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package (PMGKP), the government had announced insurance coverage of Rs. 50 lakh to healthcare providers, including community and private health workers, at risk of Covid-19 infection. 

Babu, who has been pursuing the matter since last year, asked for the number of doctors who were earlier feted and called Covid warriors during the pandemic and were compensated. He also asked for the total number of health workers who were awarded the compensation and also state-wise data on doctors and health workers who died during the pandemic. Babu said as per the November 21 RTI reply, 2,244 families have been paid compensation amounting to Rs. 1122 crore till October 23. As per the RTI, a compensation of Rs. 237.5 crores has been given to 475 families of doctors, while 1,769 families of other health workers have been paid a compensation of Rs. 884.5 crores. The RTI activist said of the total compensation made to healthcare professionals, the percentage of doctors who have received the compensation is just 21.16 per cent. According to Babu as per the data compiled by IMA, which has been raising the matter with the Union Health Ministry, a total of 1,596 doctors – 757 in the first wave and 839 in the second wave –lost their lives.   

“The IMA has prepared a state-wise list of doctors who died during the two Covid-19 waves. According to their data, 1,596 doctors laid down their lives. If we keep that data in mind – in the absence of government data – the centre has paid compensation to just 29.1 per cent of doctors’ families. This means only 475 families have been compensated so far.”   Interestingly, the Union Health Ministry had told the parliament in July last year that there is no “disaggregated data on deaths due to Covid-19 by profession or otherwise” that is “maintained centrally.”  It was the IMA that prepared a detailed state-wise list of doctors who died while performing their duties during the pandemic. Of the 757 doctors who died during the first wave as many as 90 were from Tamil Nadu followed by West Bengal at (80), Maharashtra (74), Andhra Pradesh (70), Karnataka (68), Uttar Pradesh (66), Gujarat (62) and Bihar (40). In the second wave, the maximum deaths were reported from Delhi. Of the 839 doctors’ deaths, 128 were from Delhi alone followed by Bihar (115), Uttar Pradesh (79), West Bengal (65) and Tamil Nadu (64), Andhra Pradesh (48), Odisha (46), Telangana (43) and Gujarat and Jharkhand reported 30 deaths each.

The Supreme Court is hearing the matter on December 13 after a special leave petition was filed raising the issue of non-disbursal of assured government medical cover to healthcare professionals who served the nation during the COVID-19 pandemic and died.