India’s PPE shortage, even if brief, will affect healthcare professionals’ morale; govt must address this sensitively
The shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the country imperils frontline healthcare professionals at a time when every healthcare hand is needed to contain the outbreak. While the government hospitals have to rely on government procurement, private hospitals are finding innovative ways to try and meet the requirement. Somaiya Hospital, for instance, has put up a listing on crowdfunding website Ketto to raise Rs 1 crore for PPE equipment for the staff. With 26 days to go, Somaiya has already got donations of Rs 60 lakh. In contrast, the government sector has not only been unimaginative but also, in one particular case, stymied individual efforts. A doctor at Delhi’s Hindu Rao Hospital, under the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, was allegedly fired for aiding an NGO in distributing PPE to hospital staff without prior approval from the administration.
The demand for better working conditions, including access to PPE, is a legitimate one, and the government should have known better than to clamp down on it in such an unseemly manner. If the doctor was in violation of rules by not seeking administration approval and posting his criticism of working conditions on social media, the administration should have handled this sensitively, given the distressing general situation. While the government needs to address the PPE shortage, there can be no doubt that it has to manage the growing discontent among the healthcare fraternity.