NEW DELHI: The first systematic survey on the status of personal protective equipment for health care workers in India has revealed that almost all components of PPE were found to be either inadequately available or unavailable in most hospitals.
PPEs are a crucial medical resource for frontline workers during the pandemic that include body coveralls, N-95 masks, goggles, face shields among others.
The government has been claiming that after the initial weeks of the pandemic, PPE were only imported and there is no shortage since the last few months as tens of domestic manufacturers are producing nearly 4.5 lakh PPE kits per day now. However, the latest survey by a group of independent health researchers has confirmed that frontline workers are still not getting these kits.
The survey was based on responses from doctors, residents and interns, nurses and community health workers. Nearly a third of respondents reported that N95 masks were not available at all. “One of the surprising and important findings is the lack of formal training on PPE. Over half had not received any training and a fifth reported that they self-taught themselves,” said Dr Subhashri B of CommonHealth, one of the three researchers behind the survey.
“Also, about 88 per cent did not have knowledge of appropriate PPE recommended for their work setting,” she added. “This has implications for their use of PPE and also for the fact that several have fears and concerns that should be addressed.” Over a third of all respondents in the survey reported reusing their PPE.
In the survey, it was found that only 20 per cent had N95 regularly available in adequate quantities and just over a quarter of respondents who worked in wards reported that N95 masks were regularly available to them.
Of those working in labour rooms, less than a third reported regular availability of face shields. One in five working in operation theatres reported that face shields were not available at all and mong among those working in ICU settings, only half reported regular availability of N95 masks in adequate quantities
The findings also suggest that not even all ICU workers get coveralls, goggles and face shields regularly in hospitals.
The situation was not different in public sector facilities or red zone districts, it showed.
Over one in five of those working in red zone districts reported that N95 masks were not available to them. Amongst those working in designated Covid centres, just over a third responded that N95 masks were regularly available in adequate quantities.