Health care workers during a mock drill at the NHAK COVID-19 hospital in Kohima recently

Kohima: With the growing demand of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) amid the global coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic, several health care workers in Nagaland have raised concerns over sub-standard quality PPE being distributed by the health department. To address the grievances, the state government notified that faulty PPE will be replaced only if health care workers write to the respective controlling officer and specify the quality parameters of the faulty PPE.

This comes amid reports of sub-standard quality PPE raised by doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers and other health care workers in the state. Home commissioner Abhijit Sinha during a briefing on Sunday said that a decision was taken by the government as there were reports of doctors and health workers raising objections about the quality of PPEs and other medical accessories being issued by the health department.

“It has now been decided that the doctors and health workers raising apprehensions about the quality of PPEs and medial accessories will submit reasons specifying the quality parameters which they feel are not as per the standards recommended in writing to the concerned Controlling Officers, and the Health Department will issue new PPEs and other medical accessories as replacement of all such purported inferior quality materials,” said Sinha.

He further said that the respective Deputy Commissioners will collect all such returned PPEs and medical items and keep under their safe custody until further orders.

Earlier, nurses at the COVID-19 hospital in Dimapur had written to the medical superintendent on April 15, threatening to cease work if proper PPE were not provided and if lab technicians were not assigned to assist the pathologist since nurses are unable to cover all areas for duty.

While there were apprehensions about faulty PPE even at the Naga hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK), the second COVID-19 hospital in the state capital, the doctors of the hospital authorities have clarified that the sub-standard PPE were acquired from the health department on their own volition for the sole purpose of trainings and mock-drills as for the health workers at the hospital. Videos and photos of mouldy face masks and poor-quality PPE dating back to 2007 on social media have people of Nagaland in panic, following which the hospital authorities, on April 16, clarified that the masks and protective gear were brought by the department during the H1N1 outbreak and had been supplied to the hospital as a stop-gap arrangement.

The same day, S Pangnyu Phom, minister of health & family welfare, through a letter directed the principal director (PD) to recall all inferior and incomplete quality of PPEs and other medical equipment that were distributed to the hospitals, CHCs and sub centres and further replace it with quality materials considering “the life of the frontline workers”, following complaints of improper medical equipment supplied to health care workers.

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