In the backdrop of nearly 2000 health care workers, including doctors across the island contracting Covid-19, it is learnt that the health sector is being provided with substandard Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) sets.
Although the PPE sets which are provided to healthcare workers need to be of superior standards, many hospitals in Anuradhapura, Mirigama, Karapitiya and Kurunegala have reported that the PPE kits they have received were of very poor quality and therefore unusable.
The PPE kits used by the healthcare staff consists of an N-95 type face mask with specialized gloves and a special high quality tailored kit used exclusively for surgery.
At the time of purchase of these kits from the private sector, the samples of the PPE kits provided by the relevant companies should be approved by a technical committee through a proper tender process. The supplier should also provide the PPE sets which are 100% identical to the approved sample.
If the supplier fails to provide PPE kits made in accordance with the sample provided by the supplier themselves, the normal tender procedure is to cancel the tender awarded to that company and procure the goods from another company which has fulfilled the relevant conditions.
Substandard PPE Kits
It has been revealed that the PPE kits supplied by two of the companies registered with the Medical Supplies Division (MSD) are of substandard quality and that the kits being supplied now to the MSD are not of the same quality of the samples provided by these two companies when they submitted bids for the tender.
During the past month, the two companies have provided 300,000 sets of PPE kits which were rejected by health care workers as they are found to be of very poor quality.
Many complaints have been recorded by medical staff who have stated that the fabric of the overall is very harsh and overheats the person wearing the kit. Furthermore, health care workers have pointed out that this has led the medical staff to experience episodes of nausea, vomiting and dizziness while treating patients often forcing them to cut their duties short in the middle of tending to patients.
Health officials have further pointed out that the N-95 masks are being replaced by dust masks used by the general population to protect themselves from dust, and that they don't provide adequate protection from a virus such as Covid-19. They also noted that these masks can't even be used for general health purposes.
Scam with cronies?
Meanwhile, Cloud Healthcare (Pvt) Ltd has informed in writing that they are unable to provide sterile gloves for the PPE kits and will replace them with examination gloves instead. Accordingly, it is reported that approval has been granted to supply 40,000 pieces of substandard PPE kits as per the company's request.
Healthcare workers have raised concerns as to how the Medical Supplies Division can make arbitrary decisions to award tenders to their cronies to provide such sub standard PPE kits especially at a time when the government, including the President, is working hard to save the country from the Covid pandemic.
As such, the health sector has alleged that the Medical Supplies Division is catering to the needs of businessmen and are deliberately working towards the further spread of Covid in the country.