[ Tongam Rina ]
ITANAGAR, May 26: The health workers looking after the Covid-19 positive person have reportedly been provided with defective and incomplete personal protective equipment (PPE).
Health officials, who wished to remain anonymous, say that the PPE are of low quality and tear easily. The zips that secure the body suits, are also not working in some pieces.
The PPE being provided by the directorate of health services (DHS) includes a suit, mask, hand gloves and eye gear, which they say, “is not the full set.”
N95 masks and head caps are being provided separately, insiders say.
Apart from the suits, a standard set of PPE for those working directly with the Covid-19 positive patients should also include a hard hat, safety glasses or goggles, hearing protection ear canal inserts, and heavy duty leather gloves and footwear, health officials informed.
They also informed that the staff that collect the swab samples also wear the same PPE, which are “not of good quality.”
“The department has good quality PPE but they are not being supplied to the frontline workers,” one said.
While this daily could not reach the directorate officials, the health department says that all the PPE were supplied by the HLL Lifecare Ltd.
Health Secretary P Parthiban said that the issue regarding the quality of the PPE was flagged to him by a frontline worker looking after the patient.
He said that the director of the DHS was asked to inspect and report back.
A team from the DHS reportedly met the staff, but till filing of this report they were yet to be issued with new PPE.
This is not the first time the issue of low quality PPE has come to light.
In March, the PPE were recalled after doctors said that they were of inferior quality.
Doctors had said that “the PPE were not ISO marked and of poor quality.”
The PPE were supplied to the Tomo Riba Institute of Health & Medical Sciences (TRIHMS) in Naharlagun, the Rama Krishna Mission Hospital in Itanagar, and general hospitals, among others.
The PPE were later recalled by the health department and new ones issued.
Again, in April, several doctors had said that the new kits are also of poor quality and of disproportionate sizes, making it difficult for them to work with the PPE on.
Health dept’s gag order
Even as the health workers say that PPE are not of good quality, exposing them to danger, the frontline workers have been barred from speaking to the media by the health department.
Director health services Dr M Lego, in an advisory sent to the health officials, including the DMOs and CMS, TRIHMS, stated that no unauthorized person will update and speak to the media, share video/ photo or press releases with anybody.
Only the secretary, DHS and state surveillance officer at the state, and the DC and DMO at the district levels, respectively are competent to provide information as and when required.
Reportedly, health department sent out the advisory after meeting the frontliners on Tuesday regarding defective PPE.