Shortage of PPE continues to haunts K-P

Limited supply of personal protective equipment endangering frontline workers

Wisal Yousafzai May 21, 2020

PESHAWAR: Frontline warriors in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P)mare doing everything they can to defeat Covid-19, but the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) is imperiling their ability to fight the respiratory disease — and putting their own lives at risk.”Without an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, it is foolish to think we can win the battle against Covid-19.

Both government and public need to be serious about this health crisis,” cautioned Dr. Rizwan Kundi, who heads the young doctor’s association.According to details released by the provincial directorate of health, more than 70 doctors have tested positive for Covid-19.

On the other hand, a provincial body of medical workers said the total number of infected cases is more than 90.Numbers from the health directorate appear to be lower than what health care bodies have reported.

Figures related to the nurses who have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus also appear to be lower than those recorded by the nursing association. The directorate claims 20 nurses have tested positive. However, the nursing association said more than 50 have tested positive. “If healthcare workers are the foot soldiers, PPE serves as the armor,” said one frontline worker, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In response to the claims made by the healthcare workers, the provincial government said it is using all resources to ensure an adequate supply of protective gear is available at all medical and quarantine facilities. “We are making sure all facilities have an adequate supply of protective equipment. We can never make any compromise on the safety of our healthcare workers,” said Adviser to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister on Information and Public Relations Ajmal Wazir.

He claimed 330 quarantine centres are functional across K-P. The quarantine centres, Wazir said, receive the best supply of food and other medical equipment. In another release, the provincial health directorate said more than 120 health workers, including doctors and nurses, had tested positive.

The department also acknowledged the province lost three doctors in the battle against Covid-19.Expressing concerns about the quarantine centres, Dr. Adnan Riyat, a medical practitioner, who serves on the frontline at one of the quarantine centres in Peshawar, said the medical staff should have received training to deal with the situation.

“They should have trained doctors on prevention, sampling techniques, and extended surveillance before February when the first case surfaced. Medical workers at quarantine centres do not have enough gloves, gowns, and other supplies,” he claimed.

Frontline workers, he said, need to receive proper training about infection control to prevent the spread. “Awareness level plays an important role in the effective prevention and control of a public health crisis,” said Dr. Riyat.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2020.