Dr Kota Neelima urges all states to make COVID treatment free for scribes, kin; suggests walk-in vaccination

In April, the institute's Rate The Debate initiative found that as many as 52 journalists had succumbed to the virus in 28 days alone

FP Staff May 14, 2021 22:14:41 IST
Dr Kota Neelima urges all states to make COVID treatment free for scribes, kin; suggests walk-in vaccination

Representational image. AP

Former journalist and director of the Institute of Perception Studies, Dr Kota Neelima on Friday wrote an open letter to chief ministers of all the states urging them to provide free treatment for COVID-19 positive journalists and their families. In April, the institute's Rate The Debate initiative found that as many as 52 journalists had succumbed to the virus in 28 days alone.

In the letter, Neelima also recommended the provisions of walk-in vaccination and support for the families of the journalists who have succumbed to COVID-19 .

"A journalist will not hold back from reporting about the plight of a COVID-19 patient due to personal risk. No journalist will sleep if there is a developing crisis due to oxygen shortage in any part of the country. Every journalist will feel for the citizens who suffer due to desperate health emergencies. That is the nature of journalism, and the journalist. There are no strangers for journalists — everyone is close, everyone is priority. This is the moment to make journalists a priority for everyone else," she wrote.

Neelima's suggestions include free treatment for COVID-19 positive journalists and their families in all government and private hospitals. "The COVID-19 treatment, which requires several days of hospitalisation, is beyond the scope of most journalists," she added.

She also demanded compensation for journalists' families in the event of the media personnel's death.

"Compensation in the form of ex-gratia or education fees or employment support (as applicable) to the families of journalists who have succumbed," she stated.

Neelima asserted that these provisions must be granted regardless of whether the media professional is accredited and non-accredited, full-time or freelance, rural or urban.

Putting forth her suggestions, she said, "My organisation, the Institute of Perception Studies, New Delhi, has been following each case of journalist deaths due to COVID-19 across India. We have a database of verified names and details for every state in India. I offer for free the services of my Institute to design solutions and implement these measures to save the lives of media persons."

According to a study conducted by the Institute of Perception Studies in April, as many as 101 journalists succumbed to COVID-19 between 1 April, 2020 and 28 April, 2021. Additionally, over 50 journalists have passed away due to COVID-related complications since January 2021.

Speaking to Firstpost, Neelima had said that the data was collected with the intention of holding journalists' lives accountable and to show citizens the “cost at which news was being assimilated”.

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