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Carry out Covid-19 tests to all to 82.8 million insured workers: NGO plea to ESIC

By Our Representative
A civil rights group, Occupational and Environmental Health Network India (OEHNI), has asked the director-general, Employees State Insurance Corporation (ESIC), with copies to 58 of its board members, to sharply increase Covid-19 tests for about 82.8 million workers insured with the state-owned, though self-financed, social security and health insurance scheme.
This, says an OEHNI representation signed by Vadodara-based health rights leader Jagdish Patel, the group’s national coordinator, especially considering the recent Supreme Court of India order amending its earlier order which had said that the Covid-19 test should be done free of charge in private laboratories. New order said that for affording patients it will not be free.
Pointing out that unless there is massive testing it would not be possible to know the actual incidence, Patel says, the lockdown has been extended up to May 3 today by the Government of India, and the Prime Minister has also announced that after April 20 some relaxation is expected. In some states, manufacturing will restart soon in less affected zones to reduce the economic burden.
He warns once there is relaxation we can expect more infected cases. We need to prepare ourselves for this situation, adding, this makes it necessary to make arrangements for testing corona virus for all the insured persons covered under ESI Act and their registered dependents.
Wanting ESIC enter into tie up with the private laboratories for this, Patel says, Covid-19 being an infectious disease and item 1 of Part A of Schedule III, is an infectious disease, it qualifies “claim disablement benefit is one day.”
“We demand that ESIC should give wide publicity to this provision and make insured persons aware and encourage them to make claims. Medical officers and other staff in ESIC in all states should be trained and make aware how to process the claims and give information to the insured persons visiting them”, Patel adds.
Regretting that ESI hospitals all over India are poor in equipment, Patel says, “Specifically, these hospitals do not have ventilators and this is the right time and opportunity to equip all these hospitals with the ventilators and other necessary equipment”, which would make it possible to decrease the dependence on private facilities in due course.

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