Srinagar, Apr 2: Doctors treating COVID-19 patients in Kashmir have raised concern over the supply of sub-standard Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits, which, they said, can put medicos at higher risk of contracting the deadly virus.
On Wednesday, medicos including doctors and nurses at SKIMS Medical College, Bemina, continued their protest against the non-availability, supply of “sub-standard and unsafe kits”.
A doctor wishing anonymity told The Kashmir Monitor that the PPE kits were very poor in quality and unsafe to use. “PPE should essentially be of higher standards so that doctors feel safe while treating patients. Even now there is a dearth of PPE kits when the number of patients has increased considerably for the last one week,” he said.
Such is the dearth that raincoats have been used by the doctors and paramedics instead of a comprehensive protective gear at many health centres in the valley.
A PPE kit consists of gloves, mask, gown, goggles, head cover, rubber boots and face shield that protect healthcare workers from contracting infection from the patient.
President of Doctors Association of Kashmir (DAK) Dr. Suhail Naik told The Kashmir Monitor that the PPE kits supplied to the hospitals should be medically approved.
“It can’t be a raincoat or gown made of normal fabric. It is a high-end medical outfit made to protect the frontline health worker from getting infected from the patients,” he said.
Dr Naik appealed to the government to arrange adequate PPE kits. “The dearth of PPEs is having a psychological impact on the doctors who are well aware of the fatality and mortality of this deadly virus. I am afraid if adequate PPEs are not arranged we might lose the battle in ten days,” he said.
He highlighted the PPEs made locally can’t be used by the doctors in hospitals. “Some organizations are stitching PPEs by using polythene and normal cloth. It will make medicos susceptible to the virus. The cases of coronavirus have come down and the government must use this time to manufacture and procure abundant PPEs,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Shahid Iqbal Choudhary in an interview to a local radio channel said they have taken up the issue with the concerned authorities and sought an adequate supply of good quality PPEs.
“We confirmed the quality of PPEs. Doctors have been using routine HIV kits. Further Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation had some issues with the supplies which have been redressed. Good quality PPEs are currently in transit,” he said.
When contacted General Manager Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Dr. Iqbal Sofi said the procurement of the PPEs is being done by an agency affiliated with the Central government.
“Currently procurement is being done. The government of India’s HLL procures the equipment and supplies it to us. Besides principals of hospitals can themselves procure the equipment also,” he said.