Home secretary Ajay Bhalla, in a letter sent to all state and UTs, said it was the responsibility of all state governments/UT administrations, district authorities and law enforcement agencies to take necessary measures to ensure adequate protection to healthcare professionals and frontline workers, and to prevent any incident of violence against them.
State Govts/ UTs requested to appoint Nodal Officers at State/UT level&at Dist level, who would be available 24*7 t… https://t.co/cTwtMbcnqU
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“The measures to be taken in this regard should be finalized in consultation with the local chapters of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), and the members of the IMA should be kept apprised of the actions taken to create a sense of security and confidence amongst the health fraternity,” he stated.
State governments and UT administrations have been requested to appoint nodal officers at state/UT level and at district level, who would be available 24×7 to redress any safety issue relating to the functioning of medical professionals. They should also take immediate and strict action in case any incident of violence takes place, said the Home Secretary.
He also pointed to the few heinous instances of unruly behaviour by people in some parts of the country where the family and relatives of medical professionals, suspected to have died due to COVID-19 infection, were prevented from performing the last rites of the deceased. In such cases, the home ministry said adequate security should be provided and stringent action taken against offenders who obstruct the performance of last rites of medical professionals or frontline healthcare workers.
The Centre’s communication mentioned Section 51 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 which provides for strict penalties (1-2 years maximum jail term) against any person who obstructs any government officer or disaster management in the discharge of his functions under DM Act or refuses to comply with any direction given by or on behalf of the Central government or the state government.
“In line with the provisions Of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, I urge 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.
The home secretary recalled earlier advisories to the states/UTs to provide protection to healthcare professionals, medical staff and frontline workers as well as the Supreme Court direction dated April 8, 2020, asking the Centre, states and police authorities to provide security to the 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 and in their visits to places to conduct screening.
Details of preventive measures taken and appointment of Nodal Officers were sought to be widely publicized 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, and also reported to the home and health ministries.