KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — A doctor has launched a website to match protective gear requests from Covid-19 frontliners to public contributions for better distribution, amid reports of continuous shortages.
Dr Timothy Cheng, medical advisor for myPPEhub.com, said the site has received requests of over 222,000 pieces of various personal protective equipment (PPE) from about 35 centres, comprising 15 public health clinics (Klinik Kesihatan), 10 Ministry of Health (MOH) hospitals, and 10 private clinics and hospitals. Different departments within a single hospital have also placed appeals for PPE.
The PPE items requested were over 28,000 boot covers, about 23,000 hood covers, nearly 39,000 gowns, more than 27,000 head covers, about 9,500 coveralls, almost 25,000 shoe covers, about 33,000 N95 masks, over 18,000 3-ply masks, and more than 18,000 face shields.
Since myPPEhub went live about a week ago, 66 per cent of face shield requests have been fulfilled or received donation pledges, while other appeals were barely met, ranging from 1 per cent to 18 per cent.
“We aim to complement MOH,” Dr Cheng told CodeBlue in an interview.
“But there are so many requests from the ground. And if one Klinik Kesihatan is desperate, they will request from many, many groups. So now, they just need to put in one request [to myPPEhub].”
He also stressed that the number of PPE items requested did not necessarily mean a lack of such gear, as some facilities may ask for more than what they need during the Covid-19 epidemic.
Dr Cheng explained that although health care workers are meant to officially request for PPE from their hospital or district health office, many unofficial requests from individuals, hospital departments, and clinics have also gone out to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Hence, myPPEhub aims to streamline that process by centralising all protective clothing appeals, where donors can see the requests, contact the requester for further information, decide who they want to contribute to, and send the PPE to facilities themselves. Donors can also see what other donors have given.
Contributors can filter requests through PPE type, location, or type of facility. MyPPEhub currently has 17 donors, who are described as “fulfillment partners”, including humanitarian organisation Mercy Malaysia and IMAM Response & Relief Team (IMARET).
Dr Cheng pointed out, for example, that even though MOH said last April 14 that MOH facilities still had 78 days’ stock of boot covers, health care workers were still sewing boot covers. While MOH facilities purportedly had 52 days’ left of protective head covers, plastic bags were still being used in lieu.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said then that MOH has set up an online database system administered by state health departments, hospitals, and district health offices to monitor daily PPE stock and usage in government clinics and hospitals. MOH staff can contact their state liaison officer when they run out of protective gear.
“People are still asking for PPE,” Dr Cheng said.
When pointed out that Dr Noor Hisham has complained about some health care workers wearing full PPE despite not needing it, Dr Cheng said various facilities had differing guidelines on PPE, and even then, some still did not follow those guidelines.
He said myPPEhub would also verify each request for protective clothing.
“myPPEhub will call up each requester and ask usage per day — verify as much as we can with regards to why no stock, have they checked with the main store, are they aware that the main hospital has also requested etc. If they are a Klinik Kesihatan, are they aware the PKD (district health office) has also requested, etc.”
Data on PPE requests on myPPEhub is not available to the public; only to contributors registered with the site.
The team managing myPPEhub also comprises lead developer Wong You Jing, who is the founder of a software development company, Wong Li Hua (UX [user experience] and operations), and Daniel Cerventus Lim (logistics lead).