Washington, May 5 (PTI) Indian-American physicians have sought “blanket immunity and indemnification” from the Indian government for offering their voluntary services to COVID-19 patients either virtually or in-person by flying to their home country amidst an unprecedented second wave of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
The American Association of Physicians of Indian-Origin (AAPI), which represents thousands of Indian-origin doctors in the US, has urged this in identical letters to Vice President Venkaiah Naidu and Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan.
AAPI has also raised USD 2.6 million for COVID-19 assistance in India.
“We request the Government of India through an emergency declaration (to) provide a blanket immunity and indemnification for volunteering physicians from the USA, providing COVID related medical care in India,” the AAPI leadership wrote in the letters.
“That will mobilise thousands of Indian doctors in the USA to come forward to offer their expertise and provide compassionate and competent care urgently and relieve the heavy burden on the overstretched physicians and systems in India. Please consider this request as an urgent priority, as time is of essence,” it said. Copies of the letters, dated April 30, were provided to PTI.
A delegation of the AAPI leadership is scheduled to have a virtual conversation with the health minister soon.
“Hundreds of Indian-American doctors are ready to sign up to help COVID-19 patients in India” through tele-health and remotely, AAPI vice president Dr Ravi Kolli told PTI.
“There are some legal and licensing issues that may not allow (tele-health and tele-consultancy). We want to get a clear understanding of what is the government's position as far as licensing and liability requirements,” he said.
Once that is done “can unleash thousands and thousands of Indian doctors to help local doctors (in India),” Kolli said.
AAPI, he said, has three partners who are willing to donate their platforms for the Indian doctors to do consultancy for free. In addition, two groups of Indian doctors numbering 20 each from California and Chicago have offered to fly to India to serve in any part of the country to assist local administrations to treat COVID-19 patients.