Family physicians voice concerns about looming shortages of personal protection gear

  • 2020-03-24
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Shortages of personal protection equipment and disinfectants represent the greatest problem for Latvia's family physicians at the moment, Liga Kozlovska, president of the Latvian Association of Rural Family Physicians, and Sarmite Veide, president of the Latvian Association of Family Physicians, told LETA. 

Kozlovska said that the existing supplies of protection equipment and disinfectants might last for about a week or a bit longer. If a solution to the problem is not found urgently, the president of the Latvian Association of Rural Family Physicians expects the situation to become very hard as the spread of Covid-19 continues in Latvia. 

She said that family physicians buy personal protection gear themselves, through their practices. "The Health Ministry has said that this is a matter of national security and that the purchases of this equipment will be organized on the national level, supplying also the family physicians. At the moment, it appears that they are unable to ensure this," Kozlovska said, adding that enterprises do not have the equipment either. She expressed hope that local manufacturers will be able to make the necessary protective gear. 

Veide also indicated that, in accordance with regulations, family physicians are required to have personal protection equipment and disinfectants. The family physicians have them, but they have not stockpiled any extra supplies. 

Nobody knows how the situation will unfold, and if the state of emergency continues for two or three more months, the family physicians will run out of their supplies, Veide said.

"We do not know how the situation will develop. If we look at other countries' experience, the emergency can become protracted. If this happens in Latvia, the family physicians do not have such supplies," the president of the association said. 

Veide said that the Health Ministry has been informed about the situation and the need to resupply the family physicians with protective gear. "Support has been promised but when we receive it we don't know. I have received no answer yet," Veide said. 

Health Minister Ilze Vinkele (For Development/For) said on Tuesday that a purchase of the necessary protective equipment is currently being made and the supplies are on their way to Latvia. Next week, Latvia should receive a sufficient amount of these goods, the minister said.