Nothing can be more disconcerting than the country’s apex court having to intervene to ensure that doctors and medical workers at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 are paid their salaries and given proper accommodation. ‘In war, you do not make soldiers unhappy. Travel the extra mile, address grievances,’ the Centre had to be told. Doctors having to strike work over non-payment of wages for three months and that too in the national capital, right under the nose of the Union and Delhi governments, is shameful. There was a flicker of hope that the pandemic would finally shift focus to the healthcare sector, that’s all but gone. The State and its constituents, it appears, would rather indulge themselves with the easy part: bring out ‘thalis’ and shower petals.
The Supreme Court’s censure over the treatment meted out to coronavirus patients in various states and the undignified disposal of bodies, described as ‘horrendous, horrific and pathetic’, demands serious introspection. Being overstretched and overwhelmed do not add up as an explanation. Repeat incidents can only be seen as systemic indifference. The fight is long and hard; unethical practices by those in the medical fraternity and associates have to be called out. An emergency situation is no licence to cover negligence and callousness with a shroud of legitimacy.
Is humanness losing out in the process of saving human lives? Is paranoia taking precedence over concerns of health safety? Covid-19 is unlike anything the medical practitioners and those entrusted with governance have encountered. Slip-ups are anticipated, there is no ideal prognosis on how to go about it; the burden of responsibility can be extremely trying. But over four months since the first positive case in the country, priorities must have been generalised. On the list would be an honest endeavour, no matter the constraints, to provide every citizen who tests positive the best possible care. The end result may be heartbreaking, but that should not be on account of any lack of effort. That is a legitimate expectation.
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