Andhra Pradesh

Lack of protective gear keeps pvt. doctors away from ‘corona’ battle

IMA efforts to procure PPE run into lockdown hurdles

Going by the alarming rate at which the COVID-19 positive cases have multiplied overnight in the State, one wonders why private doctors have not been roped in to battle this difficult war against the pandemic.

It is said to be because of the non-availability of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) used by medical teams dealing with the virus-hit patients. “We are ready to extend our services to the virus-affected people and we have informed this to the officials concerned on more than one occasion. But we need the protective gear to treat the patients for which there has been no response so far from the other side,” said S.V.K. Prasad, State president of the Indian Medical Association (IMA).

The ENT specialist from Dharmavaram in Anantapur district said due to non-availability of the PPE, which includes disposable 3-ply face masks, gloves, goggles and overalls, private doctors could not do much beyond giving advice to the queries they received from the public and distribution of food and fruits to the needy by the district IMA branches.

Pleas to govt.

After repeatedly asking for PPE kits in vain, the IMA now has started collecting money from its members to procure them on its own. “That is another challenge since we do not have any local manufacturer of these kits in the divided Andhra Pradesh. We may have to get them from Coimbatore for which logistics would be a hurdle in the current lockdown period,” explained Dr. Prasad.

“It is three weeks since the virus broke out and the State is still grappling with the PPE kits,” remarked Tummala Karthik, president of the IMA in Vijayawada. The cardiologist from city said he had met the Health Secretary three weeks ago to inform him that private doctors would join the fight against coronavirus and also to seek supply of the protective gear. “They said they will do the needful and the equipment is still not in place,” he said, adding: “You can’t expect doctors to treat coronavirus patients without minimum protection. It is like asking a soldier to fight a war without giving him any weapons.”

The IMA Vijayawada unit, meanwhile, contributed 60 kits of protective gear to the doctors and medical staff of the Siddhartha Medical College and Pinnamaneni Medical College at Gannavaram which have COVID-19 positive cases.

Dr. Karthik also underscored the need for more testing. “Just 248 tests a day will not serve the purpose,” he said.

Tough challenge

Citing the guidelines given to private clinics to adhere to if they wanted to function in the lockdown period, Dr. Prasad said unlike in big corporate hospitals, space constraint and lack of facilities might not allow small clinics to follow the ‘social distancing’ and other norms. He referred to the incidents at Gandhi Hospital in Hyderabad and in Indore where doctors treating coronavirus patients were assaulted and driven away respectively, and said nobody would want to land in that kind of a situation.

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 6:57:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/lack-of-protective-gear-keeps-pvt-doctors-away-from-corona-battle/article31252689.ece

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