The incidents of doctors being attacked in the line of COVID-19 duty across the country have gone up. The stigma has grown despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to treat all healthcare staff as COVID warriors. They have had to battle social discrimination, abuse, assaults and harassment along with the virus.
Now, the Ghaziabad municipal administration has appealed to residents welfare associations (RWAs) and local councillors to advise doctors and healthcare staff working in Delhi to stay there and not return home. Many RWAs and societies in Ghaziabad immediately started issuing notices to doctors and healthcare workers to find temporary arrangements in Delhi.
“This is a discriminatory order, you can’t shower us with flowers one day, throw stones another day and then send directions to our RWAs to not let us come back to our own homes. The government should help fight the stigma, not promote it. The RWAs or the councillors should not be given such powers for restricting doctors or healthcare workers,” said Dr Srinivas, general secretary of Resident Doctor's Association (RDA), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).
The AIIMS RDA wrote a letter to Home Minister Amit Shah requesting him to intervene in the matter. “Various residential societies are issuing notices and restricting entry of healthcare providers during this critical time while facing pandemic, which has amplified the shortage of human resources in various parts of the country. Doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff involved in COVID19 duties are facing the additional stress of applying for passes to commute from Ghaziabad, Noida and Haryana to the various government/private hospitals in Delhi,” the letter reads.
Calling it “discriminatory”, the Indian Medical Association has also objected the advisory from the Ghaziabad administration.
Ghaziabad the administration issued a clarification, saying, “The order was not meant to be compulsory. The appeal was made keeping in mind the rising number of COVID cases, and on the suggestion of the surveillance team to restrict border movement.”
But the damage is already done, it appears, as more and more RWAs are now issuing notices to doctors and HCWs to not come back to their homes.