What Do Gujarat’s Striking Doctors Want? Only the PPEs Necessary For Them to Do Their Job


What Do Gujarat’s Striking Doctors Want? Only the PPEs Necessary For Them to Do Their Job

A couple of days back, in his by now customary 8pm address, Prime Minister Modi told the nation that before the coronavirus pandemic, India didn’t produce any PPE kits and very few N-95 masks. “Today, we produce two lakh masks and kits every day,” he claimed.

Very few of those two lakh kits seem to be making their way to our frontline health workers.

As thali-banging, diya-lighting, petal showers and praise for Covid warriors continues to capture eyeballs on television news, the ground reality has been rather stark in various parts of the country. In an instance of shocking apathy toward medical staff, around 100 doctors and paramedic staff at SVP hospital in Ahmedabad went on a flash strike complaining that they were not issued N95 respirators and PPE equipment, which is basic safety gear required by medicos on the frontline.

“Hospital authorities are asking us to wear two-three ordinary masks and go into Covid wards or buy N-95 masks from our pockets. This is shocking and unacceptable,” said a striking doctor. On condition of anonymity, an attendant from the hospital also alleged that the salaries of the medical staff have also been delayed. “We are not asking for a raise, all that we are asking is our dues be released in time. If we ask for it, the management misbehaves with us,” he added.

After criticism online and in the media for not having appropriate safety gear even after two months of the outbreak, the Ahmedabad municipal corporation that had been making tall claims upto then swung into action and ordered 2,000 N95 masks and Vadoodra and neighbouring district health centers, to be provided to the medical staff at SVP hospital.

SVP Hospital issued a statement saying “There is no shortage of any kind of personal protective equipment(PPE) at SVP. All staff members have been issued proper number of PPE kits as per guidelines. In the photo shared by doctors you can see some of them wearing N95 masks.”

The first two cases of coronavirus in Gujarat were confirmed on March 19, and now that we’re almost two months into the outbreak in the state, the fact that our frontline warriors are still without basic protective gear and have to organize a strike is both alarming and embarrassing at the same time. The case tally in Gujarat stands at 9,268 with a death toll of 566.