President Shri Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent for promulgation of the Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897. The ordinance provides for making acts of violence cognizable and non-bailable offences. It also has provision for compensation in cases of injury to healthcare service professionals or damage to their property. The Union Cabinet had approved the ordinance on this matter yesterday taking cognizance of few recent instances of attacks on health care personnel.
The government in order to ensure involvement of maximum doctors, nurses and paramedics has widened the net of those getting covered under these provisions by allowing State Governments to include other health care professionals involved in tackling COVID-19.
The amendment also makes a provision of imprisonment for up to seven years and fine of up to two lakh rupees in cases of violence and damage. Government also announced a package of fifteen thousand crore rupees ensuring availability of medical aid and health care facility for everyone.
Speaking to AIR News over the ordinance Indian Medical Association President Dr. Rajan Sharma hailed government's swift and timely efforts to ensure safety and security of the health professionals who are tirelessly working to safeguard people's life. (With inputs from AIR)
Strict action to be taken against those who obstruct performance of last rites of medical professionals or frontline healthcare workers succumbing to COVID19, while discharging their services: Ministry of Home Affairs to States
Under the directions of Union Minister for Home Affairs, Shri Amit Shah, Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has again directed all States/UTs today to ensure adequate security to healthcare professionals, medical staff & frontline workers to prevent violence against them. Strict action must be taken against those who obstruct performance of last rites of medical professionals or frontline healthcare workers succumbing to COVID19, while discharging their services.
MHA had issued advisories to all States/UTs on 24.03.2020, 04.04.2020 and 11.04.2020, requesting them to ensure adequate protection to healthcare professionals, medical staff and frontline workers by augmenting their safety and security cover. In spite of the said communications, some incidents of violence have been reported from different parts of the country against healthcare professionals/frontline workers. It is evident that at this time, any single incident of violence against healthcare professionals is likely to create a sense of insecurity amongst the entire healthcare community.
The Supreme Court of India, in its direction on 08.04.2020, has observed that the Government of India, respective States/Union Territories and respective Police authorities should provide necessary police security to doctors and medical staff in hospitals and places where patients who have been diagnosed COVID-19 or patients suspected of COVID-19 or those quarantined are housed. Further, the Court directed to provide necessary police security to doctors and other medical staff who visit places to conduct screening of people to find out symptoms of disease.
In line with the Supreme Court directions and provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, MHA has urged upon all State/UT and District authorities to invoke the provisions of the Act, or any other law in force, to take strict 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.
MHA has further requested State Governments/UT Administrations to appoint Nodal Officers at State/UTlevel and at District level, who would be available 24x7 to redress any safety issue on the functioning of medical professionals. They should also take immediate and strict action in case any incident of violence takes place, it was requested.
In addition to this, States/UTs have been requested to widely publicize details of preventive measures taken and appointment of Nodal Officers, amongst the medical fraternity, including the local chapters of the IMA, as well as to the public at large, to ensure compliance at ground level.