Lockdown impacts production and supply of healthcare & hygiene essentials in India

Vaishnavi Gupta
Vaishnavi Gupta March 30 2020 - 11 min read
Lockdown impacts production and supply of healthcare & hygiene essentials in India
The need of the hour is to classify items in both categories as essential services and allow for hassle-free movement.

The 21-day lockdown has dealt a blow to the delivery of essential items even as startups face challenges in production and supply. Although medical devices are part of essential items and were termed as excluded from the lockdown, there continues to be a lot of ambiguity around the matter. Startups manufacturing devices such as those used for checking vital health parameters and those that produce hygiene-based products have been particularly hit.

There are avoidable restrictions on the mobility of those engaged in the supply, distribution, and transport of medicines, or raw materials for making masks, sanitizers, etc, apart from medical devices. With the production held up, there is a shortage of items that may be much needed at this time.

Several other hygiene products including sanitary napkins are also not clearly enlisted under essential goods. This is also leading to supply issues across the country.

Neha Rastogi, Co-Founder and COO, Agatsa, said, “We have innovated the world's smallest ECG device called SanketLife and sell it online to both the doctors and heart patients for the digital home and remote monitoring of ECG for cardiac patients. Although medical devices are exempted from the lockdown and are considered essential, there is confusion between government directives and police authorities. We are neither able to continue with our production, nor ship our orders because of lack of shipping and logistics services during the lockdown.”

“Our device can be highly instrumental in remote and home monitoring of cardiac patients during the Corona pandemic and they do not need to travel to hospital for regular checkups. There is a need for the government to consider this matter urgently and enable us to produce and supply our products to the doctors and patients,” she added.

Vikas Bagaria, Founder of Pee Safe, stated, “The lockdown, although necessary, has been a little cumbersome. We had to shut our warehouse after the announcement of the lockdown. Our products such as the alcohol-based hand sanitizer and N95 masks are required by some of the hospitals to carry out their operations. Even sanitary napkins are an important category. Though we are being provided with curfew pass now and then, this needs to improve. It is important to classify certain other products as essential. This includes sanitary napkins and other hygiene-based products.

Recently, the Department of Pharmaceuticals (DoP) also wrote to the chief secretaries of all state/UTs to review the matter and issue directions for treating these activities as essential services. They have also requested to direct the authorities concerned to make necessary arrangements for issuance IDs/entry pass so as to facilitate movements of the workers engaged in these essential activities.

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