A quarantine centre in South Delhi’s Chattarpur, the Radha Soami Covid care centre, and sero surveillance centre in Pushp Vihar — since March, Dr Javed Ali (42) had done duties at these three places before contracting coronavirus in June.
After a three-week-long battle with the virus, Dr Ali, who was a contractual doctor with Delhi government’s National Health Mission (NHM), died at 8.40 am on Monday at the AIIMS Trauma Centre.
He is survived by his wife Dr Heena, and their two children, aged 6 and 12. Dr Heena told The Indian Express, “He was a dedicated doctor who did not take a single day off since March and was on Covid-19 duty throughout. He even worked on Eid.”
For the last 10 days, Dr Ali was on ventilator support. “My children and I didn’t even get to see him one last time. There is no provision for the families to say goodbye. My six-year-old son doesn’t understand death, and keeps saying ‘main Allah se dua karunga Papa ko ghar vaapis bhej de,”said Dr Heena, over the phone. She said Dr Ali had no comorbidities.
Dr Ali hailed from UP’s Chandausi, and did his MBBS at a state medical academy in Russia.
His friend Dr Abu Bukr, who studied with him in Russia, recalled their conversation in March. “He was a brilliant cricketer. I had told him that once all this is over, we will meet for a game of cricket. I had recently found out he was in Lok Nayak hospital, but he was in no shape to talk to us by that time. I am heartbroken.”
Dr Ali joined NHM in 2011 and was posted at a Delhi government dispensary in South Delhi’s Sangam Vihar before Covid-19 struck. His NHM colleague Dr Dheeraj Nath said, “He tested positive on June 24, and complained of breathing problems on June 26. He was taken to a private hospital, where Remdesivir was administered to him. His condition deteriorated and he was shifted to Lok Nayak. Over the phone, he used to say he will be back.’
The conversation changed a few days later when his oxygen levels dropped, said Dr Nath. “He sounded scared. He was then moved to AIIMS Trauma Centre.”
His wife said no financial help was extended by the government when Dr Ali was at the private hospital as he was a contractual doctor with NHM. “It’s our job to treat people, but what about our safety, our treatment? Who will fill the void? Who will help educate his children? The government must ensure safety of families of healthcare workers, even if they are contractual healthcare workers,” said Dr Heena.
On Monday, Dr Alka Choudhary, Delhi president of NHM Doctors’ Welfare Association, said she has written to Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain about giving medical benefits to NHM members, including doctors, paramedics, data entry officers, among others.
“In March, we had approached the health minister with the same demand. If we fall sick while treating Covid-19 patients, we have to foot our own bills. No one cares about us. If we test positive and are at home, our leaves and salary are cut too. Dr Ali’s wife spent their money on his treatment. Why call us warriors? Why talk about our future? Make sure we and our families are safe in the present.”
“The death of a doctor who was a corona warrior is very unfortunate. Help will be extended to the family. If a representation has been sent to the government, we will try to help in the best way that we can,” said a health department official.
As of now, there are over 2,000 members of NHM, including 240 doctors, on Covid-19 duty. Dr Choudhary said, “Many NHM healthcare workers are shaken up after Dr Ali’s death and want to go on strike to demand health benefits, but we want to meet the health minister first. We have faith in him.”
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