The Indian Medical Association on Saturday said the Union health ministry was showing “extreme lethargy” and taking “inappropriate actions” in dealing with the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a press release, the medical body said that it has been insisting the Centre to impose a complete national lockdown for 10 to 15 days to “recoup and replenish” the country’s health infrastructure. Pointing out that the daily rise in new coronavirus cases has gone past 4 lakh and 40% of them were “moderate to severe” infections, the Indian Medical Association said that sporadic night curfews have not been effective in breaking the transmission chain.
The medical body also criticised the Centre’s vaccination strategy and questioned the supply shortage. It termed the differential vaccine pricing system “unhumanistic”, and said that it leaves those in the age group of 18-45 “under the mercy of state governments”.
“It is unfortunate the [health] ministry has failed to make the necessarily required road map and ensure vaccine stock,” the release stated.
As per the Centre’s vaccine policy for the third stage of inoculation, those in the age group of 18-45 will receive the shots through the 50% quota procured by states and private hospitals.
The Indian Medical Association release questioned as to why the Centre was not providing for universal free vaccination, in spite of allocating Rs 35,000 crore in the Union Budget for the pandemic. “In 1997 and 2014, India could declare eradication of small pox and polio only by adopting the universal free vaccination and not by differential pricing system,” the release noted.
The medical body also accused the government of “hiding” the number of patients dying of coronavirus, adding that 756 doctors died in the first wave of the pandemic and 146 in the second one. “Why we are trying to hide actual deaths?” the medical body asked. “If the public comes to know about the actual deaths, their seriousness to adopt Covid-appropriate behaviours will rise.”