Highest Death Rate of Doctors in Bihar Exposes Nitish Government’s Figure on Corona Toll

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Doctors and medical staff at the COVID-19 dedicated LNPJ hospital in New Delhi. Media photo used for illustrative purpose only.

With the demise of over 100 doctors, the state’s share is more than one fourth of the fatalities at national level

Soroor Ahmed | Clarion India

IN THE last 50 days or so more than 100 doctors associated with the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have died in Bihar. That is about two daily. Here it needs to be mentioned that the actual number of doctors in India (in Bihar as well) is four-times than those associated with the IMA. There are 3.25 lakh members of the IMA whereas the total number of allopathic doctors in the country is about 13 lakh.

Those who perished in the second wave of corona virus include director of Bihar Health department, Dr T.N. Singh, renowned cardiologist Dr Prabhat Kumar, skin specialist Dr V.K. Sinha, radiologist Dr Rana Mithilesh, Dr Ajay Agrawal, Dr Shatrughan Ram, Dr U.S. Kumar, Dr Husain Ahmed, retired professor of Nalanda Medical College and Hospital, etc. These are just a few prominent names, and the IMA Bihar Chapter has constituted a team to probe the high death rate of doctors in Bihar in the second wave of Covid-19.

Curiously, only 41 doctors associated with IMA died in Bihar in the first wave of the pandemic which lasted for about one year.

After Bihar, Delhi reported the death of about 75 doctors to be followed by Uttar Pradesh, 45.

So, in the second wave about 350 doctors associated with the IMA died in the country in which Bihar’s share is more than one-fourth. This huge death toll of doctors has put a big question mark before the Nitish Kumar government’s figure of the fatality due to coronavirus in the second wave.

Believe it or not, officially only something between 70 and 90 people were dying daily in Bihar due to Covid-19 throughout these days. The number of positive cases at the best remained around 15,000 daily—now it has come down considerably.

Does it sound believeable that two of these 70 to 90 patients dying everyday were doctors associated with the IMA—not to talk about other allopathic doctors? It defies the logic.

This small sample is enough to explain the volume of figures the Bihar government is hiding.

If 75 doctors died in Delhi during the second wave where between 300 and 400 patients were dying daily, by that logic just calculate the actual number of fatalities due to the pandemic in Bihar during the last two months.

As per the Bihar government data 4,943 people died due to coronavirus since the disease first struck the country last year. In total 6.98 lakh people were affected. In Delhi, which has one-sixth population than that of Bihar 23,695 people had died while 14.2 lakh people were affected.

While in Delhi, the state the chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, is quite visible, in Bihar his counterpart, Nitish Kumar, more or less like last year, maintained a low-profile. The state chief secretary Arun Kumar Singh, and several other IAS officers, died at the height of the second wave. Exactly six days before his death, Bihar health department secretary, Ravi Shankar Choudhary died on April 24.

The health minister who is a senior BJP leader, Mangal Pandey, had virtually been camping in West Bengal during the initial days of the second wave as Assembly election was going on in that state. He was not alone, many of his BJP ministerial colleagues and other party functionaries were in West Bengal during those peak days. This only reflected the seriousness of the government in fighting the menace of coronavirus.

Not only that, Chausa in Buxar district shot into prominence as hundreds of bloated bodies were first found floating in river Ganga on May 10 there. The Bihar government was quick to wash its hands of by stating that these bodies have flown down from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. The latter was quick to deny it.

Anyway, independent media reports suggested that the bodies were of both the states.

But in the whole controversy one hardly heard anything from the Buxar MP and much garrulous BJP leader, Ashwini Choubey. In fact, he is the Union minister of state for health in the Narendra Modi government.

One need not forget that when the same Choubey was the health minister in the Nitish Kumar government in January 2012, he had threatened the doctors that their hands would be chopped off if they go on strike. Interestingly, when reports of coronavirus started getting media publicity, Choubey had on March 19, 2020 suggested that the people should take sunlight for about 15 minutes in mid-afternoon every day. But the Union minister of state for health himself tested corona positive in the last week of December 2020. Perhaps he failed to practice what he preached.

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