Even as healthcare workers across Karnataka are flagging up the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and hand sanitizers, the government has been maintaining that it has ordered enough kits. However, the matter reached the Karnataka High Court, which has issued orders to the state government.
Government hospitals across the state are worried that they might fall short of kits if there is a rise in cases in the coming days. So, they have demanded the government to produce more kits. But private clinics and hospitals fear that they are the first point of contact and want the government to procure and distribute more PPE kits.
“You never know when a COVID-19 case will land. So private clinics are right in asking for the required kits,” says Dr Sudheendra Rao, advisor at Organisation for Rare Diseases India (ORDI). “But we should use them judiciously. While we may face the shortage in wards, we might also be falling short of kits for first-point-contacts.”
Dr Julian Saldanha, a resident doctor at Wenlok district hospital in Mangalore, says while there is no shortage in the wards as of now, doctors want the government to supply more (enough kits) as they foresee a rise in cases.
In an email written to the court, Dr Zeenath, Professor and the Head of the Department of Pathology at ESI hospital in Kalaburagi, said staff at the hospital had not even been provided with masks. The doctor had pointed out that some staff members had tested positive, after being present in the wards visited by COVID-19 patients.
“The State must disclose before the Court whether it has ascertained as a measure of preparedness, the total requirement of masks of various categories and PPE kits and what is the action plan of the State to procure the equipment,” the judgment copy on April 8 read. “The State must make a statement whether masks, PPE kits and sanitizers have been made available to all the public hospitals in the State.”
While the global standards limit the usage of one set of PPE to 6-7 hours, healthcare workers in Karnataka are under pressure to conserve resources owing to the scarcity. The Health Ministry asserted that they would keep a buffer stock of PPEs and ventilators and that the government had already contracted with vendors.
Besides taking steps to buy 10 lakh triple-layer and N95 masks, and five lakh PPEs from Hindustan Latex Ltd, the Karnataka government has decided to purchase 1,000 ventilators from a Mysuru-based company, called Skanray Technologies.