Medical professionals forced to take to crowdfunding to source PPEs

Crowdfunding campaigns on across the country to source PPEs, sanitizers and masks for doctors and nurses


Desperate times call for desperate measures. It is well known that healthcare workers on the frontlines of the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic are facing an acute shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves and coveralls. Even while the Prime Minister urged the people to clap for healthcare workers, all they had to say was that while they appreciated the gratitude, what they actually needed was medical equipment to protect themselves from the infection.

However, it appears that their pleas are falling on deaf ears, an they are left to their own resources and the support of the citizens to help them stay healthy during this time.

Take the case of Telangana, where according to Deccan Chronicle, the state government is yet to supply and adequate number of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), sanitizers and masks to junior doctors who are treating Covid-19 patients in government hospitals. This despite Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s personal commitment to the effect! 

On Tuesday, the Telangana Junior Doctors Association (T-Juda), was forced to opt for crowd funding and rely on donations from senior doctors. As these junior doctors have to face patients every day, they have requested senior doctors and alumni to help them out with money to procure the equipment.

A member of the T-Juda said, “About five lakh PPE and masks were promised to us but they are nowhere to be seen. Some junior doctors in Gandhi Hospital might have got some PPE and masks, but rest of us are struggling at the forefront of this battle.”

Explaining that their target is to get 5,000 N-95 masks and at least 1,000 PPE to begin with as they can be worn only for six to eight hours and discarded properly later, Dr. K.U.N. Vishnu, the President of T-Juda said, “We are not getting safety gear on time. With number of cases rising, frontline workers have to be protected. If they fall ill or are quarantined, there will be shortage of manpower, which will lead to trouble in Covid management. We are appealing to people to support us and provide us with funds to procure safety equipment.”

A senior resident doctor from Osmania General Hospital is baffled as he doesn’t know where the gap lies. Whether the requirements aren’t communicated or the equipment isn’t being released. He says, “We are seeing patients who are not revealing their travel history or contact footprint maps. Some of them are not even aware that they have come in contact with those who travelled to Covid-19 affected countries. In such a scenario, we doctors and other medical staff are exposed. We badly need protection. The government made an announcement but nothing has reached us. We do not know where the gap lies? Is it superintendents of hospitals have not given right requirement or is medical department not releasing them?”

The Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) in Chandigarh too sourced 48 PPEs through crowd funding. Two former students of the 2009 MBBS batch, who are now doctors in the US and Singapore together raised Rs. 3 lakh online in three days for the safety gear. The doctors managed to raise the money through a GoFundMe campaign and

Dr. Rohan Dhaliwal, ocular immunology fellow in Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston who started the campaign with Dr. Sahil Thakur, ocular epidemiology fellow in Singapore Eye Research Institute told The Times of India, “The government acquisition procedures and policies are slow and people unwilling to think or do anything outside the box. It all started when we saw an online post from a GMCH resident doctor about the shortage of PPEs. Dr. Sahil and I got together to help our GMCH family in testing times.”

“We had 95 contributors. The PPE is worth Rs. 2.6 lakh and includes 100 PPE routine gear, 250 N-95 masks and 100 full body suits. We are looking for a vendor of N-95 and PPE to spend the remaining Rs. 40,000,” he added.

Confirming the endeavor, medical superintendent Dr. Ravi Gupta said, “The contribution was for 100 PPEs, which cannot be received in one lot, so we have got 48 at the moment. The next lot will come soon. This is a big boost in the fight against Covid-19.”

In Mysuru, looking at the dire need of PPEs for healthcare workers involved in the direct care of patients, the Round Table India (Mysuru Chapter), 41ers club and the Ladies Circle India came forward to raise funds through crowd funding for the procurement of these essential equipment, reported Star of Mysore.

In Bengaluru, Fracktal Works, a Bengaluru based startup, centered on 3D printer manufacturing and product development, launched a crowd funding campaign on Sunday, reported TOI. Within 10 hours, they reached the target of Rs. 1.5 lakh, to produce 1,000 face shields. Overwhelmed with the support, they are now looking to raise Rs. 5 lakh for 3,000 face shields. Rohit Asil, a member of the core team of the company said, “These face shields will be donated to specific hospitals that are away from cities, where there are no proper logistics, are difficult to reach and there are less doctors. We have also received calls from Gwalior, where a small nursing home has been converted into a Covid-19 relief center. The face shields will be shipped by Tuesday.”

It is heartening to see the medical fraternity coming together to contribute for their fellow mates when they need it the most. With cases of coronavirus rising in India and more than 50 healthcare workers already falling prey to the infection, there is an obvious in delay in the government’s strategy reaching to the healthcare personnel on ground. Whether it is a manufacturing or distribution delay, it will cause irreparable damage if the required equipment doesn’t come in soon, thereby putting the lives of the leaders of the Covid-19 war on the line.


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