At this point, most of the country is under lockdown. With the number of COVID-19 cases increasing sharply, it is being suggested that India has already entered stage-3 of transmission of the disease.
Amid this pandemic, health professionals are most vulnerable to the infection as they are working day in, day out to treat those infected with the disease.
Just yesterday, people across the country gathered in their balconies to clap, bang utensils or ring bells to express their gratitude to those providing essential services, particularly medical professionals.
Our health workers need much more than gratitude and applause. They are risking their lives for others and are in need of better protective equipment.
There have been reports of doctors getting infected with the virus in India, while treating the patients. These reports indicate towards the shortage of good-quality protective equipment in the hospitals.
The same has been corroborated by some health professionals on Twitter.
I am a government employed surgeon. I have probably been exposed to Covid19, I cannot know. I haven't been tested. Our casualty still allows anywhere between 2-20 relatives per patient, & we see over 600 per day. Asking everyone detailed travel history is a luxury I can't afford.— M (@unkittenish) March 21, 2020
@narendramodi I don't want your claps. I want your genuine and wholehearted effort in ensuring my wellbeing. I want personal protective equipment. I want better government strategies. I want to have faith in your actions. Do better.— M (@unkittenish) March 21, 2020
Another doctor and administrator shared how much resources the hospitals need to fight the pandemic. And the numbers are just impossible to achieve.
Today, we spent hours figuring out how to re-structure healthcare facility in our hospital. Which wards and how many beds do we assign for #COVIDー19 patients? How many ICU beds? 1/3 of hospital beds and half the ICU beds. Someone said. The numbers send a shudder down the spine.— SP Kalantri (@spkalantri) March 21, 2020
A report by TOI suggests that protective equipment manufacturers in India haven't received any guidelines from the health ministry with respect to the production of protective gear.
A meeting held by the textile ministry to discuss the demand and quality of protective equipment needed in India, shows that the situation is really bad. Health industry in India requires at least 7.25 lakh body overalls, 60 lakh N-95 masks and 1 crore 3-ply masks. But increased demand for these materials has led to a shortage in the market.
Apart from protective gear, the condition is equally bad with regard to the equipment needed in the Intensive Care Units, like ventilators.
Health workers from across the country shared their accounts on Twitter elaborating on the shortage of essential protective gear and medical equipment.
In my hospital, 90% of the ventilators are occupied now, even when there are no confirmed COVID-19 case. Just imagine how the health system will cope up if the epidemic expands.— Zeeshan Mhaskar (@MhaskarChief) March 20, 2020
BREAKING #INDIA : Indian doctors report shortage of Masks & Protective gears. Urgent need of the hour as the health care workers are now the countries ARMY to combat Corona ..— CORONA VIRUS UPDATES (@CoronaVirusTN_) March 23, 2020
This is noticed on many other countries too.#COVIDIOTS pic.twitter.com/ECcpynSvKy
We all applauded for Doctors and Health workers yesterday. They more than deserve it. But can the Health minister and PM address the working conditions of Doctors in Government hospitals? No masks, shortage of medicines and other needs#@PMOIndia #@MoHFW_INDIA— Srinivas Rao K (@KSreeniraok) March 23, 2020
I’m an intern in a government hospital in Maharashtra & in my hospital we have to try really hard to find even a basic mask to wear, other stuff like gloves, sanitizers are nowhere to be found while we need these the most in these times when many Corona suspects who complain...— Dr. Aditi Rana (@itrollmuggles) March 21, 2020
The same report by TOI also suggests that procurement of protective equipment has got stuck in the processes of bureaucracy with one ministry shifting the blame to another.
It's high time the government addresses these issues of shortage of protective masks and other essentials in the healthcare industry and ensure the safety of our front-line fighters.