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The purpose of COVID-19 task force is to complement government supplies by avoiding bureaucratic delays

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Dr Ramen Goel, President, Indian Association of Gastro-intestinal Endo Surgeons (IAGES), in an exclusive chat with Prabhat Prakash how IAGES is contributing towards the battle against COVID-19 by providing essential equipment required by the frontline workers

What is the vision of the task force constituted by IAGES? Who are the member partners of this task force?

The purpose of this task force is to complement government supplies by avoiding bureaucratic delays. This task force has Vice Presidents of IAGES from all five zones, so we are able to quickly identify and assess actual shortfall in supplies, if any. We have created a national requisition system wherein requests are received by all members of the task force from a hospital or a doctor on a real-time basis. Similarly, suppliers can enter their details with product range, quality details of products, approvals, etc. This system helps task force members to identify the nearest supplier of quality products to deliver goods to requesting hospitals.

Where is IAGES procuring the PPE, masks and face shields from, at a time when there is a dearth of these essential equipment in the market?

We have a list of about 70 suppliers and we are not facing any supply shortage. We have shared this list with all members; so, those in private sector can directly approach and buy PPE.

Till date, how many masks, PPE and face shields have been distributed to the hospitals? Name these hospitals.

We have distributed PPE to hospitals in Kolkata, Tamil Nadu, Mumbai and Delhi. There are requests from Indore, Gwalior, Jaipur, Mathura, Jamnagar, Agartala, etc. We have also received requests from Jaipur for body bags which are required to safely dispose dead bodies of COVID-19 patients, The first lot has been sanctioned and should be delivered in Jaipur today.

How is the task force being supported? Is there a tie-up with the government or any other organisation?

This is the limiting factor as at the moment it is self-supported by members. Though we call it a war, participation of civil society in supporting the frontline ‘soldiers’ (read healthcare workers) is subdued due to lockdown. IAGES is trying to bridge this vacuum by externally supporting government efforts.

Our strength is easy accessibility, quick assessment and faster delivery to the hospital, department or healthcare workers (HCWs).

However, challenges include finances and collapse of courier services, which limits delivery to remote places.

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