In Bihar, a physician makes mask with car cover. Govt admits shortage of protection kits

On Wednesday, leading Hindi daily Dainik Jagran reported that a physician from Bihar Geeta Rani who works in Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College in Bhagalpur made a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kit from her car cover.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is most important in preventing transmission of the viruses in treatment centres. 

In Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, the healthcare infrastructure to fight novel coronavirus is very limited.

The state’s position is at the bottom over the last two years in the health index prepared by NITI Aayog.

Following many reports and criticisms on state’s healthcare, Bihar’s principal secretary (health) Sanjay Kumar himself on Sunday said there is a shortage of PPE kits and N95 masks in the state.

“There is a shortage of PPE kits and N95 masks. We are in touch with the Centre. Bihar Medical Service Infrastructure Corporation Limited is in contact with the private agencies,” he told media.

The state officials have requested the Centre for 5 lakh PPE kits and have received 4000 so far.

“Please, please, Modiji, hear us. We are going to die. What kind of kit have you given us? How can we treat patients like this? We won’t survive,” Julie Kumari, a staff nurse Nalanda Medical College in Bihar’s capital city, took to social media to urge PM Modi.

In a video message, she appealed to the government to save her and all the hospital staff from likely death.

The Nalanda Medical College, where Julie works now, has been designated by the Bihar government as the state’s primary hospital to treat cases of COVID-19. 

Two weeks ago, the hospital’s association of junior doctors wrote a letter to the Nalanda Medical College’s superintendent and appealed to send 83 junior doctors to home quarantine, as they were exhibiting symptoms of the disease.

“Despite being designated Bihar’s special coronavirus hospital, they do not have even primary facilities for treatment and protection equipment for physicians and nurses,” Vandana Yadav, an activist with nurses’ rights in the state told Maktoob.

“While all the hospitals in the state are over-burdened, the infrastructure at the many is non-functional,” Alam Zafar, a junior doctor in a private clinic in Gaya told Maktoob over the phone.

“State and central governments are continuing the discriminations to the most vulnerable communities in our state,” Zafar said.

According to the data by the state health department, one doctor to serve an average 29,000 population and one hospital bed per 8,645 people sum up the healthcare scenario in Bihar which is the third most populated state in India with a population of 104.1 million, according to the 2011 census.

The state authorities have requested the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to open testing centers at Bhagalpur and Gaya.

Nine medical colleges in Bihar have been authorized to collect samples to test for COVID-19.

The first COVID-19 cases in Bihar were reported on 22 March, when test results for two patients were found to be positive.

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