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Doctors seek more testing centres in Bengal

The doctors met for two days in the city and drew up a list of demands that would be sent to the chief minister
Health workers conduct a COVID-19 test of a person in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, during the nationwide lockdown, in Calcutta on Monday, April 20

Sanjay Mandal   |   Calcutta   |   Published 21.04.20, 08:52 PM

Eight doctors’ organisations, including the Indian Medical Association (IMA), on Tuesday requested chief minister Mamata Banerjee to create more testing and sample collection centres for Covid-19 and proper audit “at every level” to avoid “maldistribution and misuse” of personal protective equipment.

The doctors met for two days in the city and drew up a list of demands that would be sent to the chief minister. The letter to the chief minister also includes “real- time transparent data” on the Covid-19 situation in Bengal.

“With the permission of the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research), more and more corona testing centres should be set up in keeping with ICMR guidelines. The local administration should also be empowered to order testing according to ICMR guidelines,” the letter said. “There should be sample collection centres at least at every sub-division. Copy of the reports should also reach the treating physicians as well at the same time.”

Santanu Sen, the state secretary and immediate past national president of IMA, said sample collection centres at sub divisional levels would help people living in the remote areas.

“Then people living in Jalpaiguri don't have to travel to Siliguri to get tests done,” said Sen. “The Centre should give permission to set up test laboratories in every district of Bengal,” said Sen, a Trinamul Rajya Sabha MP.

The doctors’ organisations that attended the meeting include West Bengal Doctors’ Forum, Association of Health Service Doctors, Service Doctors’ Forum, Medical Service Centre and Doctors for Patient.

This was the first time since the outbreak of the disease that the city’s doctors’ organisations held a meeting and prepare a charter of demands.

A representative of one of the organisations said there were some problems in the Covid-19 management that they have identified and were discussed.

One of the main demands was adequate safety measures for all frontline healthcare workers.

“If they get affected then not only they will become bigger sources of epidemic, many fields in the healthcare sector might collapse in the near future,” the letter stated.

The doctors also demanded a proper audit of the distribution of personal protective equipment for healthcare personnel “at every level” treating coronavirus patients and those with symptoms.

“We are observing in many hospitals those who are not treating Covid-19 patients or those with symptoms, are wearing PPEs. This will create shortage of such equipment and affect healthcare services,” said a doctor who attended the meeting.

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