Docs, health staffers report shortage of PPE

Staff Reporter
ITANAGAR, Apr 7: Even as the health department is preparing to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, several doctors and health staffers have been constantly reporting shortage of personal protection equipment (PPE) in the state.
Many health staffers have been assigned the duty of screening passengers with thermal thermometers at various check gates of the state, while others continue to attend to patients despite the shortage of PPE, risking possible exposure to infection in the process.
Recently, the doctors and staff of the hospital in Doimukh reported that they had not been provided with adequate PPE. Though the authorities on Tuesday provided them with around 250 PPE, Papum Pare DMO, Dr Subu Tasso Kampu, informed that various CHCs and PHCs of the district are also facing shortage of PPE, “and the health department is trying its best to address the problem.”
According to nurses working at the Doimukh hospital, they have to reuse the facemasks and gloves after autoclaving or sterilizing them, due to acute shortage of PPE.
“A nurse on the evening shift reuses the masks and gloves of the nurse on the morning shift after autoclaving them. We have been doing this since 23 March. Though PPE had arrived earlier, they were not adequate. We received masks, but they were single-layered instead of being three-layered, and we didn’t get any protective goggles either. Many of us have to go on field visits and attend to patients; therefore there is need for adequate PPE,” said one of the staff nurses.
Doimukh Hospital MO, Dr Lobsang Chuki, informed that as per guidelines, PPE are usually not given to indoor OPD general service staffers, “but given the present situation, they are equally in danger of getting infected.”
“There is unease among nurses and doctors because we do not know who might be infected. There may be many asymptomatic cases with whom they may have come into contact. At times, we get a single box of PPE, which contains 25 pieces of gloves and masks, which we use as judiciously as possible, but it is clearly not enough.
“Every day, so many patients visit the hospital; we cannot deny them medical service. We are all aware of the fact that PPE are scarce all over the country in view of the pandemic, but I earnestly appeal to the state government to ensure that adequate PPE are made available for the health staffs,” the MO said.
The DMO meanwhile cited “non-issuance of PPE by the government for three weeks” as the reason behind the shortage, but said the department is now ready to distribute PPE to other districts as it received a fresh batch last week.
She informed that 11 flu centres in the district will also be provided with additional PPE on Wednesday.
“We need adequate supply of PPE in the state. Only a week earlier, the health staffers deployed at Hollongi threatened to quit, saying that they were not getting adequate PPE. Later, we managed to purchase a few PPE after we received a donation from someone from the United Kingdom.
“Demands for PPE will keep growing, hence the government needs to ensure that more of these are supplied to the state,” she said.