BENGALURU : Civil society organisations and citizens from varied backgrounds are calling for a ‘Count Every Death’ campaign, asking the government to look at Covid-19 deaths, and other deaths that took place during the pandemic, as more than just statistics.
The citizens have come out with an open letter to CM BS Yediyurappa, with a list of demands, besides an analysis of facility-wise cases and deaths. The campaign aims to highlight pitfalls in the government’s handling of the Covid-19 situation, and hold the state accountable. The signatories believe that criminal negligence by the government, lack of preparedness for the second wave of Covid despite advance notice of its onset, combined with a weak public health system, have all led to a vast number of avoidable deaths and severe long-term social and economic fallout.
“The State Government must acknowledge the avoidable Covid deaths and apologise to the people, particularly to families who lost their loved ones, for its colossal failure in tackling Covid and preventing these deaths. Carry out the mandated exercise of analysis of facility-wise cases and deaths in all hospitals, and death audits for all deaths in hospital, and the community since April 2020,” the letter demanded, adding that the State Government must prepare and publicise a ‘State Covid Death Register’ documenting all deaths during the pandemic.
The letter demanded insurance of Rs 50 lakh, a comprehensive rehabilitation package, and compensatory appointment for families of frontline workers and health workers who lost their lives to Covid. They called for disbursing Rs 30 lakh compensation to families facing financial difficulties after losing members to Covid, a rehabilitation package, government employment for surviving spouses and free education for their children.
Poorna Ravishankar, member of Count Every Death, said several non-Covid patients lost their lives as tertiary care hospitals like Victoria were turned into Covid hospitals. “Had the state planned, all this would not have happened.
Our campaign has highlighted the voices of those who lost their lives to the Chamarajanagar oxygen tragedy, doctors working in rural areas without much support from the state government, pourakarmikas who lost their lives to Covid and did not receive compensation, those who lost their livelihood due to the lockdown etc. The government must apologise for mismanagement and account for every death. We will keep placing fresh demands, highlighting every aspect of how they failed and ask how they plan to remedy it before the third wave,” Ravishankar said.
The letter stressed strengthening public health infrastructure, including setting up more hospitals, PHCs and CHCs.