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On Wednesday, the cabinet approved a regulation making acts of violence against doctors and frontline staffs as a cognizable and non-bailable offence with imprisonment up to seven years. The decision has been taken due to several reports emerging of attacks on healthcare employees who are engaged in treating and tracking coronavirus cases across the country.
I&B minister Prakash Javadekar said that those violating the law will have to face a jail term of up to 7 years and a fine up to Rs 5 lakh. He said that the cabinet has approved declaration of an order to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, to ensure those who assault or abuse healthcare staffs are punished. Any damage of property or assets, the violators would also have to pay a compensation double the market price.
He said that health workers who are trying to save people from this epidemic are facing attacks. Such act of violence or harassment won’t be tolerated against them. A law has been brought in and will be implemented after the Presidents permission.
The Indian Medical Association has cancelled its proposed ‘white alert’ and ‘black day’ protests that was scheduled on April 22 and 23 after a meeting with home minister Amit Shah and health minister Harsh Vardhan via video conference on Wednesday. The doctors’ organization has been demanding the Centre to bring in a law to protect healthcare workers from growing attacks when they are battling against COVID-19.
During a communication to states, home secretary Ajay Bhalla said that even a single occurrence of violence against healthcare professionals can create a sense of insecurity among the healthcare community as they were continuously serving to resist the spread of coronavirus. He directed that sufficient security should be provided to frontline professionals and action should be taken against troublemakers. Bhalla also said that it was the responsibility of all state governments and UT administrations, district authorities and law enforcement agencies to take necessary steps to ensure adequate protection to healthcare professionals and frontline workers and to prevent violence against them.
Bhalla also highlighted some terrible cases of wild behavior in some parts of the country where the family and relatives of medical professionals, who are suspected to have died due to coronavirus infection, were prevented from performing the last rites of the deceased person. In such scenarios, enough security should be provided and strict action should be taken against offenders for such dreadful acts.
Javadekar had also said that the cabinet has allowed Ayushman Bharat beneficiaries to avail the healthcare facilities in non-empanelled hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: ET Healthworld