Srinagar: Kashmir’s premier health institutions including a Covid-19 hospital affiliated with Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar have rejected the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) sent by the Jammu and Kashmir Medical Supplies Corporation Limited (JKMSCL). The PPE kits have been assessed as not being safe enough for use.
Official sources told Kashmir Reader that the PPE kits were procured by JKMSCL from a government enterprise. They were declared “unusable” by the review committee of Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar for failing safety standards.
“The kits were put before the review committee in a meeting headed by Principal GMC Srinagar, Dr Samia Rashid. All the samples failed to pass the quality tests and hence the supply was rejected,” said an administrator who was part of the meeting.
The GMC and its associated hospitals recently sent a list of requirements including N-95 masks, surgeon gowns, protective goggles, surgical gloves and shoe covers to the JKMSCL. “The corporation procured the PPE kits in a hurry, without verifying the quality standards,” the administrator said.
Principal GMC Srinagar Dr Samia Rashid confirmed that technical experts of the college rejected the PPE kits received from JKMSCL. “The technical experts, including medical superintendents of all the associated hospitals and the procurement officer of the college, rejected the supply as they didn’t find the PPE kits proper for use,” Dr Rashid said.
The GMC principal did not reveal about the parameters against which the PPE had been rejected. “I think the technical experts would be the best to tell you the details,” she said.
Dr Rashid also rubbished media reports about shortage of protective equipment for doctors. She said her administration wouldn’t allow any frontline worker handling Covid-19 cases to suffer for want of PPE.
“So far we have provided the best equipment to frontline workers and there is no shortage of anything,” she added.
A senior physician at the GMC told Kashmir Reader that the protective gear received from JKMSCL had failed almost all the parameters of quality, including efficiency, permeability index, and visibility.
“The World Health Organisation (WHO) has issued standard specifications for PPE kits for frontline workers dealing with the Covid-19 outbreak. The guidelines were endorsed by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. But the kits given by the corporation failed in most of the specifications,” he said.
As per official documents, in possession of Kashmir Reader, the JKMSCL had issued a supply order to a government enterprise for at least 1 lakh PPE kits and other items like sanitisers for different hospitals of J&K, including the Chest Diseases Hospital designated as an exclusive Covid-19 hospital.
“The corporation first supplied the gear to some Jammu-based hospitals and to the Government Medical College Jammu. Although the administrators cleared them, most of the doctors dumped the gear and started using locally purchased masks and gowns,” said a representative of doctors.
After some days, the information about the poor-quality protective gear reached Kashmir, whereupon the Doctors Association Kashmir, the largest doctors’ association in the valley, issued a statement expressing concern.
“They also raised the issue with the administration, which finally vetoed the supply,” said a member of the Doctors Association Kashmir.
A senior doctor posted at Chest Diseases (CD) Hospital also confirmed the development and said that the Medical Superintendent of CD Hospital was part of the review committee that rejected the PPE kits.
Financial Commissioner, Health and Medical Education, Atal Dulloo admitted that the PPE kits sent by JKMSCL were rejected by the GMC’s experts. However, he said, only a few samples had been sent to the GMC for quality check.
“We have asked more companies to supply PPE kits to our hospitals. We are in the process of receiving a fresh lot,” Dulloo said.