Indians in Ebola Affected Nations- Are they Safe?

Rakesh Manchanda

Social Stigma attached with Ebola Hit countries and step motherly treatment Indians face while travelling back home from these countries reminds me of a Bollywood film slogan :Hum Apke Hain Kaun- How are we related to you ? Analogy sketches a `Perfect Mismatch` between Government and the Indians coming from Ebola hit countries. Human relation equation is forcefully changed. Even the rescuers or Health workers in their safe suits are required to maintain a two meters distance from the suspect of Ebola. No management works if the cure or a solution is not visible.

As per Health Ministry there are 45000 Indians in West African Ebola affected countries including Nigeria which is declared Ebola Free but No Clear Cut-WHO procedures are not visible for screening and safety due to delays in check ups. `No Ebola` Certificate mandatory requirement in India is likely to increase the bribes in the unsafe systems is already discussed in my recent articles in these columns.

What do Overseas Indian Investors and Promoters want in West Africa?

Investors want a peaceful country to ensure their assets are in order, their workers are safe and recovery of revenues is secured. During Business Interruption (BI) due to war or Virus outbreak the risk is the loss of key employees and loss in business continuity due to Ebola isolation of 21 days.

Any entrepreneur who has been keeping a tap with any major Global tragedy knows that Govt always downplays the casualties. Be it a civil war, a terrorist attack, riots, floods, train crash, earthquake or HIV. Reason ? Government do not want to create panic among general public. This is normal. Few numbers of deaths every day are shown but the final figure is never revealed. However, Insurance line is different. Regulating insurance laws and insurance line is a paid profitable business not a fear that can be hidden.

What Global developing Governments including India want while dealing with terror like Ebola with no cure ?

Asking insurance companies to facilitate safe insurance covering Ebola for overseas Indians and Indians within Indian coming from Ebola affected nations is the duty of any Government which cannot be wished away. In India unfortunately this buck is passed on to the individual person to deal with the Insurance hub on one to one basis. Insurance lobby argument is that Ebola is a global failure in the diagnosis process and a clear cut treatment is missing.

Modi Government which came to power with a slogan-To minimise Government and Maximise Governance is found standing on a safe lazy pitch. It appears Ministry has taken a `short cut` before fixing other immigration essentials and no Government pressure on Insurance regulations.

Why Insurance companies instead of covering Ebola are running away?

Sample the cost of an Ebola hospitalization and death. Estimates put the cost of treatment to Thomas Eric Duncan, (the uninsured Liberian national who was hospitalized in America and who later died ) as around $1,000 an hour, or close to $500,000 overall. A write up by Christopher Boggs vice president of education for Insurance Journal`s Academy of Insurance puts it simple- Why Ebola will not be covered under workers `compensation? American and British Insurance Companies kept on tendering excuses that there is No compensation for Fear as seen in an old cartoon which is self explanatory and few even honestly mentioned Ebola as excluded in the coverage claim.

Thanks to the Public Pressure and commitment of MPs of America and developed countries. Insurance companies it appears now are ready to cover Ebola compensation to American travellers on losing connecting flights or trains and helicopter evacuation when stuck up in a Ebola hit village in West Africa. There is twist in the story-New travel health policy for West Africa Business travel will be costlier to cover losses from Quarantine shut down and loss of Business and inability to catch a flight.

American Government is today proudly announcing full Ebola coverage tailored new to travellers while Modi Government is still behind celebrating and promoting easy structural changes like `Life long visa` for Persons of Indian Origins and `no show` up at Police stations in India. 

Safety of Indian Travellers- Why different?

Insurance lobby in their business calculations consider how much the country spends on health. The bitter truth remains that while India spends not more then 3% of its GDP on heath. Spain another `Ebola travel` hit country spends 3000 usd per person per year while US spends less than 9000 USD per person per year.

Can Modi Magic force insurance lobby and protect overseas Indian`s interests in W Africa ?

India Travel & Health insurance `without Ebola` cover in West Africa is toothless and is likely to fall under an `Act of God` clause with no claims.

About author: Worked in African countries since 2006 and had been supporting International Red Cross and few NGOs as volunteer on Basic and Advance Life Support.Other articles on Ebola sensitization written by same author and published at Dwarka Parichay column recently are :

Ebola Free Certificate- A Fair Stop to Screen Safe India?

Kiss of Life or Death-Ebola Decides What is Safe.

2014- Terror Transmission Tale –Can We Stop It ?

40 Yrs. Outbreak Kills-Now Wakes Up Rich !

Ebola Tide: Lets Fight Rumours First from Mali to Manchester