Washing of hands in the prescribed manner in the wake of COVID 19 is an absolute must. But, most lamentably many doctors attending on patients have had to wash their hands of their own lives in the absence of suitable PPE.
Bharat needs at least 38 million masks and 6.2 million pieces of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as per a Reuters’ report. According to the WHO guidelines, protective gear for medical professionals and health workers include coveralls, N95 masks and gloves and goggles.When the pandemic struck, Bharat was so woefully unprepared to meet this challenge that either doctors were treating patients without any PPE, or they had to make do with worn and torn gear.
Ripped raincoats were dug out of the closets of medical professionals.Some manufacturers of PPE in Bharat say they were at a total loss to initiate production no sooner than the crisis attained near unmanageable proportions because the regulatory authorities had not laid down the specifications for the same.
As per news reports at that time, the DRDO will collaborate with local manufacturers to produce masks. Two domestic producers which had been supplying 50,000 of these will ramp up their production to 100,000.
No Customs Duty on PPE
Alarmed by the acute scarcity of PPE, the Centre has announced Customs Duty exemption on PPE. It has also directed that the Union Ministry of Health will be nodal authority for the import of the PPE. Earlier, there was no clarity regarding the above and the States were doing the procurement on their own.
Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health has stated “the concern for PPE should not lead to panic. But these should be used rationally.“ The government has said its target of making 10 lakh units of PPE per week would be reached soon and already orders for 1.7 crore of these had been placed on companies and supplies had started.
Many car manufacturers have also risen to the occasion and gone into the productions of ventilators, as has also happened in the US. The US and many other nations are facing an acute scarcity of these and using the same only for such patients who have at least a small chance of survival.
Like other nations Bharat forthwith imported sub-standard PPE from China. Of course, the Netherlands and Spain had done the same and minced no words in reprimanding China for not meeting quality standards.
China which had deliberately concealed the magnitude of this pandemic for a long time also unfolded a double whammy for the victim nations by arm twisting them to import sub-standard gear, in keeping with its economic philosophy of making hay while the sun shines.
“Doctors in Britain are being bullied and shamed into treating patients with COVID19 despite not having the masks, gowns and eyewear. They need to protect themselves from the virus,” the frontline medics have said, “Others are being told to hold their breath to avoid getting infected because of persistent shortages of PPE.”(1)
This is not the scene in any third world nation but the situation as exists in the UK, which has always taken pride in its NHS (National Health Scheme). This is not to undermine the grim reality that the above system is so overstretched that it is virtually bursting on its seems.
The USA is no better. In an article authored by John Tozzi and others published by Bloomberg, it has been said that “healthcare workers and others essential to the COVID-19 fight say they are increasingly frustrated that they are being sent into a deadly battle without protective gear they need for themselves and their patients.”
The fact that COVID-19 hit mankind like a tsunami didn’t offer nations the luxury of adequate time to stock up the required quantity. But health authorities the world over should have eschewed complacency after similar afflictions such as Ebola, H1N1 and swine flu.
COVID-19 sees no distinction between the high and the mighty and the rich and the poor. It is precisely for this reason that Donald Trump should refrain from taking pride in the fact that he refuses to wear a face mask. There are umpteen other COVID-19 affected nations which have imperiled the lives of millions precisely because of the above reason.
(1) Doctors lacking PPE Bullied into treating Covid 19 patients by Denis Campbell : The Guardian, April 7, 2020
(Featured image source: India TV)
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