🚨BBC INVESTIGATION🚨 In the pandemic era, how has Modi govt treated India's #HealthcareWorkers? I wanted to find out. 1st stop - in UP’s Bareilly with deceased ASHA worker Shanti Gangwar’s family. #Thread 🧶

2:29 PM · Sep 16, 2021

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Shanti took govt’s fight against COVID to the grassroots – till she could not, due to the virus. Over 4 months but her family has not received ANY of the promised support from govt – despite asking. Are there more like Shanti? What has been done? What has been ignored?
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Let’s start by remembering that this was a govt that, with a lot of fanfare, told us – they would stand with #HealthcareWorkers Modi’s exhortation to bang plates and light lamps? Military helicopters over hospitals – to shower our medical personnel with petals? Remember?
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March 26, 2020 - Day after India’s national lockdown, Modi govt announced a Rs 50 lakh insurance scheme for families of deceased healthcare workers. Fin Min @nsitharaman announced it. She called #healthcareworkers ‘Gods in white uniform’.
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July 2021 – when asked for data on deceased #healthcareworkers – Modi govt said it had nothing. Now, if you don’t know how many have died, how will you know whether you’re reaching everyone? Shanti’s the perfect example of deserving people being left out. How many more remain?
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I began filing Right To Information (RTI) applications. Initially data was denied. More applications more appeals followed and some data was released. The latest I have is what govt told the parliament:
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What's really imp to understand is the Rs 50 lakh was ONLY for public #healthcareworkers and THOSE private ones who were requisitioned by govt. Which means - a private #healthcareworker who died of COVID while caring for COVID patients has NO RIGHT TO SEEK COMPENSATION.
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In a country where public healthcare is thin, under-funded and private #healthcare comprises a WHOPPING 70 per cent of all healthcare – how prudent was such a policy? We’ll find out.
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So govt told parliament that – till July 16, 2021 – it had compensated 921 families. But this was WITHOUT knowing how many it actually needed to compensate. (because no data maintained #HealthcareWorkers on deaths, I told you) Dug out state-wise data 👇
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So I knocked on other doors. I wanted to know if other orgs had kept any data on deceased #healthcareworkers. Next tweet on where that led me.
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Indian Medical Association - nearly 1600 docs (only docs) died of COVID on duty. Trained Nurses Association of India - 128 deaths Govt data - over 100 ASHA workers died performing COVID duties (before the 2nd wave FYI) TOTAL OVER 1800.
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And I'd be failing if I don't specify this -- 1800 #healthcareworkers dying due to COVID is a CONSERVATIVE estimate. There are many for whom I could not find anything. Eg: ward boys, daily wage outsourced staff and others who perished. WE DON’T & perhaps WON’T KNOW.
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How about meeting some real people? Meet Malti (Shanti's daughter): After mother died so many called incl people from health dept..others urged me to take up my her job. There was talk about insurance money..all seemed cooperative. But I don't know what happened after that.”
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Jayanti Prakash (Shanti's brother in pic) and her son, both told me, they had made repeated inquiries with the local officials. Nothing came of it.
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Mumbai's Dr Chittaranjan Bhave, private ENT doc succumbed to the virus in June '20. His wife Sujata says: He was seeing his patients online but wasn't satisfied..decided he would go in person”. Then he fell sick. That was it. Family never saw him again. Compensation? Denied.
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Sujata and her daughter spoke to me over a Zoom call. This is her quote. #HealthcareWorkers
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IMP - there were many families like Gangwars and Bhaves. But they were fearful..they thought by speaking they'd make the govt angry and hurt their chances of getting compensation. As a journalist, it was frustrating to see people backing out. But I understood.
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I’ll make you meet just one more family. Agra-based Dr Madhu Rajpal. Her husband, Dr VK Rajpal (67) private doc, would visit govt-designated COVID hospitals to see his patients. He died due to the virus during the 2nd wave. Compensation? Claim filed. No response.
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Dr Madhu told me, "I feel we deserve to be compensated, we lost the main earning member..I feel that to discriminate..to say that we will compensate a govt doctor and not compensate a private doctor, I think that is not correct."
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Now some like Dr Rajpal & Dr Bhave chose to go out and see their patients. Many WERE FORCED. See this circular issued by @mybmc. A simple Google search will reveal how widespread this practice was in India then. 👇🏽
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Meet Dr Nilima Vaidya Bhamare, President-elect, Association of Medical Consultants.
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As we end, ONE thing Modi govt can not do is - claim it had not anticipated the consequences of its action and inaction. Because parliament did that for them, in Nov 2020. Read the key paras below. Govt was warned against discriminating. Yet, nothing changed.
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Dr Jayesh Lele of @IMAIndiaOrg: Govt has not done work properly..there is deficiency in their data collection. Am feeling very sad. PM gave docs a lot of respect but what is the effect of it all? We are unable to give that.
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One more thing he said to me which is imp. IMA had constantly reminded the govt about policy implementation and flaws. IMA offered to help. They heard back nothing.
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And finally, is there a way out? Assuming the govt wants to remedy the situation, what can it do? We asked someone who’d definitely know.👇👇
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On Sep 8, '21, BBC reached out to @MoHFW_INDIA to share our findings. We asked if they were re-looking their policies which have hurt so many of India’s #healthcareworkers and left us with no count of how many need help. Repeated efforts proved in vain. No response was received.
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