Around 155 health workers have been reported to have lost their lives to COVID-19 till September 11, suggests official data

In order to curb fatalities among health workers in India due to COVID-19, the Indian government has taken several steps including allocation of necessary kits and medicines to the health workers and establishment of various Infection Prevention and Control committees to safeguard them. Despite several efforts by Central and States governments, a total of 155 health workers have lost their lives to COVID-19.

According to the data released by the government of India, around 155 health workers have been reported to have lost their lives to COVID-19 till September 11. The government said that the number could be more since the data is only constituted on the basis of those seeking relief under government’s packages.

In a statement, the government said, “Health is a State subject. Such data is not maintained at Central level by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. However, the database of those seeking relief under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Insurance Package’ is maintained at national level.”

According to the data, a total of 64 doctors, 32 auxiliary nurse midwives (ANM) and multipurpose health workers (MPHW), 14 ASHA workers and 45 other medical staff have lost their lives.

What has the government done for Health Workers?

The Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), in the month of March released guidelines related to Infection Prevention and Control practices to be followed by all the states.

“A training plan was also conveyed to the States to complete training up to district level by 20th March 2020. Training on Infection Prevention and Control was also made available for all categories of healthcare workers on the iGoT platform,” the government said in a statement.

Hospitals were asked to appoint a nodal officer to monitor and review the exposure status of the health workers. A mandatory quarantine was ordered for all medical staff in the high exposure scenario.

“An advisory for managing health care workers working in COVID and Non-COVID areas of the hospital was issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on 18th June, 2020,” the statement said.

Similarly, the healthcare workers were provided with hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis and prevention of infection, the government claimed.

A New Healthcare Scheme

Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey on September 15 told the Parliament that the government has made a provision under ‘Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package’ for all the health workers fighting COVID-19.

He said that the scheme aims to provide an insurance cover of Rs.50 lakh to healthcare providers, including community health workers who may be in risk due to direct contact with the COVID-19 patients. He said that the scheme also includes accidental loss of life on account of contracting COVID-19.

The scheme has been extended to private hospital staff, retired/volunteer, local urban bodies, contract or daily wage or ad-hoc or outsourced staff requisitioned by States or Central hospitals or autonomous hospitals of Central or States or Union Territories. The staff of AIIMS and hospitals of Central Ministries are also covered in the scheme, the minister said.

Status of COVID-19 Vaccine in India

Although it is not clear as to when the country will find an effective vaccine, the government is taking a lot of measures for the selection of suitable vaccines.

The Government has constituted a high-level National Expert Group on vaccine administration for COVID-19 which is chaired by Member, NITI Aayog and co-chaired by Secretary, MoHFW.

According to a statement released by the government, the committee is addressing all the issues related to “vaccine delivery, selection of suitable vaccines, procurement, prioritization of groups, logistics: Cold chain requirements, finance and National/International equity.”

Other members of the committee are Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, Secretary, Department of Health Research, Director General of Health Services, MoHFW, Director, AIIMS, Head ECD, ICMR and Director Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education among others.

As far as vaccine trials are concerned, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) has granted test license permission for manufacture of COVID-19 Vaccine to Serum Institute of India, Cadila Healthcare, Bharat Biotech International, Biological E Ltd, Reliance Life Sciences Pvt Ltd, AurbindoPharma Limited and Gennova Biopharmaceuticals Limited.

India has reported 83,809 new cases of COVID-19 and 1,054 fresh deaths related to it in the past 24 hours. A total of 79,292 patients were either cured, discharged or migrated in the same period of time. India tested a total of 10,72,845 samples for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours.

So far, India has reported 49,30,236 cases out of which 38,59,399 patients have already recovered and 80,776 patients have lost their lives.