Forum: Clinics need other supplies urgently, not just masks

It is getting harder and harder to procure medical supplies, especially surgical masks (Coronavirus: One million masks to be distributed to private clinics in Singapore; Feb 12).

Doctors in private practice face the same challenge in purchasing enough masks for clinic usage, as much as ordinary citizens.

Contrary to popular thinking, private medical clinics do not receive preferential treatment from pharmacies or vendors when purchasing masks.

The Ministry of Health has been supplying private clinics with one or two boxes of surgical masks monthly for the past two months.

When the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition was raised from yellow to orange, private clinics have had to comply with stricter rules with regard to personal protection equipment (PPE).

Doctors and staff have to wear surgical masks all the time when seeing any patients.

In treating high-risk patients, or doing high-risk procedures like throat swabs, full body PPE, which includes goggles, gloves and gowns, are worn.

In addition, patients have to have their temperatures taken before clinic consultation.

Frequent washing of hands or rubbing hands with alcohol is also recommended for all staff.

Since Dorscon orange, protective gear like goggles, gloves, washing liquid like hand sanitisers and alcohol swabs, and contactless thermoscans have been snapped up by both medical clinics and the public in retail stores.

MOH should consider distributing such supplies to all private clinics in addition to the masks.

Close collaboration and cooperation between MOH and private clinics would greatly help the country fight Covid-19.

Desmond Wai (Dr)

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