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Frontline healthcare workers question quality of PPE provided

  • Published at 09:57 pm April 18th, 2020
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Fear of Covid-19 wreaks havoc on urban poor

Frontline health workers (FLWs) in Bangladesh are in fear of getting infected with Covid-19 as they believe the quality and effectiveness of the personal protective equipment supplied to them is questionable.

About 75% of doctors and nurses and 40% of other health workers received at least one item of PPE, but the quality of the PPEs supplied has been questioned by them, according to a survey.

FLWs reuse the PPE, which are like raincoats, whereas the World Health Organization suggests disposal of PPE after single use, researchers said.

The findings of the survey, titled “Frontline health workers’ perceptions and opinions on their personal safety while attending suspected or confirmed Covid-19 patients in Bangladesh,” were released at an online press briefing on Saturday. Researchers from Brac James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH), Brac University and Bangladesh Health Watch (BHW) jointly conducted the survey.

The rapid telephonic survey was conducted between April 9-14 and covered a total 60 respondents from 14 districts and 43 health facilities.

At least 106 doctors and 57 nurses had been infected with Covid-19 while treating patients in Bangladesh as of Saturday morning. Another 270 nurses have been in quarantine across the country.

The survey also finds that not all FLWs have been imparted the necessary training on Covid-19 management and prevention or the use of PPE.

Healthcare providers are concerned about spreading the infection to their family members and are suffering from mental health problems, such as stress, anxiety and insomnia, according to the survey.

Their worries are affecting their performance, it added.

The FLWs are becoming physically exhausted from continued duty without proper rest and food, while the respondents were not happy about the role played by their respective professional associations, the survey further found.

The survey recommended ensuring an adequate number of PPE of appropriate quality for all FLWs who are directly or indirectly involved in the management of Covid-19 patients, arrangement of accommodation for FLWs near their workplace to allay their anxieties, and implementation of rosters and rotation of FLWs as per the 7/14 model (7 days of duty followed by 14 days of quarantine) as was followed in Wuhan.

Fear of Covid-19 wreaks havoc on urban poor

Fear of being infected with the coronavirus is wreaking havoc on the lives of Dhaka's urban poor, particularly given their high levels of insecurity with regard to the virus spreading quickly, according to another survey conducted  by the same three institutions.

Suspicion of one another, stigmatization, discrimination and victim-blaming were found among most of the poor because of some level of misinformation, according to the survey.

Analysing 51 out of the 80 respondents’ experiences, the survey found that respondents confused the symptoms of Covid-19 with simple colds, coughs and fever and considered prayers and faith as a protective factor. 

The survey, titled “Lived experiences of the urban poor in slums during the shutdown”, covered eighty residents of six selected slums (Kollanpur Pora basti, Dholpur, Nama Shayampur, Dokkhin Khan, Helal Market and Chalbar) in Dhaka. The interviews were conducted via telephone from March 30-April 12.

The survey is part of a package of research findings covering six different studies on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the general and mental health of the population at large.

Rumours of being picked up by police and locked away in isolation cells create more panic and fear of getting infected with the virus in the slums, the report added.

Almost all the respondents, who now have no income, are managing their livelihood with savings, by borrowing, with a few relying on neighbours and relatives.

The respondents claimed they had received no food support as relief and also that they were suffering from emotional distress due to increased uncertainty in their lives.