As coronavirus infections continue to spiral out of control in India, in a strongly worded statement, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Saturday said that the Union health ministry should "wake up" and make serious efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
This development comes in the backdrop of principal scientific adviser K VijayRaghavan warning about a highly possible third wave of the pandemic.
"Phase three is inevitable given the higher levels of circulating virus, but it is not clear on what time-scale this phase three will occur," he had said earlier this week.
Accusing the health ministry of not taking appropriate action to deal with the current crisis, the IMA Saturday said it is “astonished to see the extreme lethargy” of the ministry.
"IMA demands the health ministry to wake up from its slumber and respond to mitigate the growing challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. IMA is astonished to see the extreme lethargy and inappropriate actions from the ministry of health in combating the agonising crisis born out of the devastating second wave of COVID-19 pandemic," the IMA said in a statement.
This development comes in the backdrop of the country logging a record 4,187 Covid-19 fatalities and 4,01,078 new infections on Friday.
At the moment, the country’s active caseload, which stands at 37,23,446 comprises 17.01 per cent of total cases.
The IMA further said that for the last 20 days, it has been insisting for a complete and well-planned national lockdown to ramp up health infrastructure and replenish both material and manpower.
"The collective consciousness, proactive cognisance, and requests made by the IMA and other professional learned colleagues are put into the dustbin, and often without realising the ground realities the decisions are taken," IMA president J A Jayalal said.
"However, the central government has refused to implement lockdown, resulting in mounting of new patients beyond four lakhs every day and the number of moderate to severe cases are increasing to nearly 40 per cent. Sporadic night curfews have not done any good. Life is precious than the economy," the IMA said.
On Covid-19 vaccination, it said that it had made persistent calls for inoculation of those in the 18 to 45 years age bracket.
But it is "unfortunate" that the ministry has failed to make the necessary road map and ensure adequate stock of vaccine. This has resulted in non-roll out of vaccination for the age group in many places, the IMA said.
It also attacked the government on different prices of COVID vaccine and said
it is because of this that the 18-45 year age group "are forbidden to get the free vaccination from the central share of 50 per cent and they are placed under the mercy of state governments".
The IMA said in 1997 and 2014, India could declare eradication of smallpox and polio only by adopting universal free vaccination.
"Unless the government comes out and implements with willingness and steadfastness for equitable distribution, we will not be able the achieve the goal (of speedy vaccination)," it said.
Claiming that the crisis of oxygen is deepening every day, the IMA said though there is enough production it is often the distribution which is not proper.
Most hospitals are not getting oxygen and patients are suffering, it said and added that resultant, people are knocking at the doors of courts to get justice.
"Imported oxygen concentrators and oxygen plants are yet to reach beneficiaries. IMA appeal, as the time is running out with the impending crisis lest we deepen the crisis, solve it on a war footing," it said.
The IMA said that the mutation is a norm for RNA viruses and understanding this needs proper gene sequencing and risk assessment.
"Unless we make our self-prepared to face this by enhancing testing, we will miss the boat," it said.
The IMA pointed out that "we have lost 756 doctors in the first wave and in the second wave, more than 146 doctors have died within a short period".
"Hundreds of deaths happening in big hospitals are shown as non-COVID deaths and crematoriums are showing housefull boards. Why are we trying to hide actual deaths?" it said.
The IMA demanded capping of prices of life-saving drugs and removing GST from them.
It said that violence against doctors and health care professionals is increasing and demanded a central law against hospital violence tagged with IPC provisions.
The IMA said that the entire health care administration should be revamped with Indian Medical Service (IMS) cadets who are well versed with the technical and administrative skill for effective execution of health care.
"We also demand to establish a new integrated ministry to serve in this pandemic with a dedicated, proactive, vibrant, innovative, and altruistic Minister and alleviate the fear of people by leading from the front," it said.
(With PTI inputs)