Monday, 30th October 2017

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Coronavirus outbreak: Bias against doctors punishable

Any attempt to turn out healthcare workers from homes will attract fine &/or prison term

By Raj Kumar in Ranchi
  • Published 27.03.20, 12:11 AM
  • Updated 27.03.20, 12:11 AM
  • 2 mins read
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A deserted Pandra Road during the fourth day of lockdown in Ranchi on Thursday. Picture by Prashant Mitra

The district administration has clearly expressed its concern over social discrimination against health workers, including doctors and paramedics, and warned it would be treated as a crime at a time the medical fraternity is fighting the Covid-19 pandemic from the frontlines.

Deputy commissioner Rai Mahimapat Ray on Wednesday issued a directive to residential welfare associations, housing societies and house owners with tenants, threatening them with dire consequences such as fine and prison term in case they discriminate against anyone from the health services sector who cannot afford to self-isolate themselves as their jobs involve mass contact.

The directive from Ranchi is significant because medical and paramedical staff stay at different parts of the city, many in rented flats as well. As the news of the Covid-19 pandemic spreads, many people are scared that doctors, nurses, paramedics and other healthcare staff are more likely to be exposed to patients and become a health threat for their neighbours.

Though Jharkhand has not reported any Covid-19 case so far, the Ranchi administration issued this directive in advance so that people understand that doctors and other healthcare staff cannot be victimised for doing their duty.

“In the wake of pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, a lockdown has been enforced in the district. Covid-19 has been declared a disaster under the Disaster Management Act-2005. Doctors and paramedical staff besides others engaged in serving humanity in this situation deserve praise,” the directive communicated through the Ranchi district public relations department reads.

“But the district administration is getting complaints that health workers are facing trouble from their neighbours and housing societies, and some of the landlords are forcing these health workers to leave their homes. This is not fair. In case anyone is found indulging in it (any act of hostility against health workers), action under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code will be taken,” the directive further reads.

Under Section 188 of the IPC, there is provision of jail up to six months or fine up to Rs 1,000 or both in case it is proved that someone has disobeyed the order duly promulgated by a public servant.

State co-ordinator of the Indian Medical Association Dr Ajay Kumar Singh welcomed the decision but said cases of social discrimination against doctors and health workers had not come to his knowledge from Jharkhand.

“It is good that such a directive has been given on the basis of experiences from other places. The district administration has indeed raised an important issue. However, except for one or two instances from Delhi and Telangana, cases of social discrimination against doctors have not come to my knowledge from any part of the country, including Jharkhand,” Dr Singh said.

District civil surgeon Dr Vijay Bihari Prasad echoed Dr Ajay Kumar Singh. “It’s a good move but we have not received any such news.”

Ranchi SSP Anish Gupta also agreed with Dr Singh.

“The police have yet to receive any complaint in this matter (hostility towards health staff) in the capital district.”