Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday reiterated his government’s commitment to protect each and every healthcare worker who is bravely battling COVID-19 on the frontline.
“The Epidemic Diseases (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 manifests our commitment to protect each and every healthcare worker who is bravely battling COVID-19 on the frontline. It will ensure safety of our professionals. There can be no compromise on their safety!” PM Modi tweeted.
Union Cabinet today approved promulgation of Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 making acts of violence on healthcare service personnel as cognizable and non-bailable offence.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar in a press conference said, “Cabinet approves promulgation of Ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 making such acts of violence as cognizable and non-bailable offences and to provide compensation for injury to healthcare service personnel or for causing damage or loss to the property.”
“It carries imprisonment from 6 months to 7 years if anyone is found guilty. Violators would also have to pay double the cost of damage of property,” said Javadekar.
The Ordinance would help protect Healthcare service personnel and their living and working premises against violence.
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 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, according to official release.
The Supreme Court, in its direction on April 8, 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, the statement said.
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, the statement said.
MHA has further requested State Governments/UT Administrations to appoint Nodal Officers at State/UTlevel and at District level, who would be available 24×7 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, it said.
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, it added.