Written byShalini Ojha
Mahua Moitra, one of the strongest voices All India Trinamool Congress has, is receiving criticism for insulting the NRI doctors. They had raised an issue about less coronavirus testing in West Bengal and ambiguous reports about deaths.
Without an iota of introspection, Moitra had asked the doctors to concentrate on the countries they currently live in.
Her hollow response was rightfully slammed.
Last month, a group of non-resident doctors wrote to Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee expressing concern.
Addressing themselves as Bengali physicians, health scientists, and healthcare providers, they said, "There are two specific issues that are most disturbing to us: 1) the gross under-testing in West Bengal, and 2) the misreporting of data on the cause of death in COVID-19 patients."
Referring to a Reuters report, they pointed out Bengal can easily conduct 1,000 tests/day but it had tested 33.7/million, lower than the national average of 156.9/million.
"The number of truly affected cases depends on the extent of testing, the accuracy of test results and, in particular, the frequency and scale of testing of asymptomatic cases who may have been exposed," the letter said.
"The gross underestimation in a number of truly affected cases may have potentially dangerous consequences, specifically in 1) not being prepared with adequate healthcare capacity to handle the pandemic burden, and 2) failing to arrest the spread of the infection by asymptomatic cases," they said.
On under-reporting of deaths, the doctors said only a state-appointed committee should declare whether a patient has died of COVID-19 or not.
"In the face of a pandemic, World Health Organization (WHO) and Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines instruct hospital staff, medical examiners, and other health officials to report the primary and underlying causes of death in the death certificate," they added.
The signatories have deep ties with Bengal, they were born and raised there. But disregarding their concerns, Moitra slammed them asking to concentrate on countries where they serve.
Asserting that 11 of the 14 NRIs stay in the US, UK, and Germany, she said they chose to live and pay taxes elsewhere.
She asked them to get to work in their "adopted countries".
Q: Ques for NRI docs— Mahua Moitra (@MahuaMoitra) April 25, 2020
Yr adopted home UK US have worst stats worst handling of COVID despite devlpd econ
Poor govt comm, no PPE supplies, health staff at risk
Why not write such letters to UK Health Secy/Trump/ state governors?
A: Much easier to become heroes here, right?
Moitra, who herself worked as an investment banker in JPMorgan Chase in London, was berated for her stand on the suggestions given by NRI doctors.
75 luminaries like filmmakers Buddhadeb Dasgupta, Tarun Majumder, Kamaleswar Mukhopadhyay, and Suman Mukhopadhyay, artist Wasim Kapoor, actor Sabyasachi Chakraborty, music composer Debajyoti Misra, professor Ambikesh Mahapatra, and educationist Pabitra Sarkar reminded her raising questions was important for democracy.
In a letter, they said Moitra's response might stop experts from giving honest opinions.
Referring to her speech in Lok Sabha where she called for seeking answers from Centre, they added, "Why then, raising public health concerns about the state is equated to criticizing West Bengal? Or is she trying to imply that their non-resident status precludes these scientists from questioning things at home?"
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