scorecardWhere does the buck stop if there is a shortage of protective gear for health workers fighting novel coronavirus?
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Where does the buck stop if there is a shortage of protective gear for health workers fighting novel coronavirus?

Where does the buck stop if there is a shortage of protective gear for health workers fighting novel coronavirus?
IndiaIndia2 min read

  • India needs at least 38 million masks and 6.2 million units of personal protective gear to fight the global pandemic, according to a Reuters estimate.
  • There are reports of shortage of protective gear even for health workers in the forefront dealing with patients infected with Covid-19 coronavirus.
  • Anupam Sibal, group medical director and senior pediatrician with the Apollo Hospital Group, and the member of the government taskforce says that the lack of access to masks, gloves and other protective gear are isolated cases.
  • Business Insider asked experts who should be held responsible wherever there are cases of shortage of important medical equipment.
Several reports have shown that the Indian medical staff is low on masks and suits that could save them from Coronavirus infection. The healthcare workers battling the global pandemic are reportedly treating patients without basic protective gear or Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) — including N-95 masks, head covers and glasses.


‘These are isolated incidents’

However, Anupam Sibal, group medical director and senior pediatrician with the Apollo Hospital Group, and a member of the central government taskforce, says that the shortage might just be at an individual level and not at the institutional level.

“There might be issues with the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) at the individual level, but I think that there are no major challenges at the institutional level — to support the frontline staff at the hospitals,” Sibal told Business Insider.

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Even if a few cases of lack of important equipment may lead to loss of lives at worst and, at best, loss of morale for the health workers which can then lead to disastrous results. Therefore, which door should the health workers knock on wherever there is shortage of equipment?

It is the responsibility of the health department in every state to ensure there is enough medical equipment at its disposal.

The local administration, civic bodies in the case urban areas, has to make sure that these are supplied to the hospitals for the medical staff in time.

As of now, the country has 3.34 lakh PPEs across hospitals and another 3 lakh ‘donated’ coveralls are expected to be imported in the next two days, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said in a tweet.


But that may not be enough. A Reuters report said that India needs at least 38 million masks and 6.2 million PPEs to fight the global pandemic.

Sibal also agreed that “yes, we can run out of PPEs, so a lot of effort has been made to augment the capacity — whether we have to import, enhance production or loop in other industries like garments and apparel to ramp up the production.”

Where is the problem?


This may be due to the disruption in the global supply chains as countries close borders. “The shortage of PPE was there, because the raw material was always imported from other countries. But the government has addressed the issue by looping in the textile workers,” said Gautam Bhansali, member of Maharashtra’s state taskforce for Coronavirus.

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