This is not to nit-pick the Finnish medical system, but only to highlight the stupidity of the US media…
It’s great that the warehouse exists, but it’s far from being a warehouse of “prepper proportions”. The US media’s flagship paper the NYT’s wanted to make a story that contrasted with the US situation, which has seen a great lack in proper medical supplies. Since the publication of the NYTimes’ article “Finland, ‘Prepper Nation of the Nordics,’ Isn’t Worried About Masks“, the assertion that Finland doesn’t have a problem with obtaining the proper amount of masks has been proven to be erroneous.
The stockpile, considered one of Europe’s best and built up over years, includes not only medical supplies, but also oil, grains, agricultural tools and raw materials to make ammunition. Norway, Sweden and Denmark had also amassed large stockpiles of medical and military equipment, fuel and food during the Cold War era. Later, most all but abandoned those stockpiles.
But not Finland. Its preparedness has cast a spotlight on national stockpiles and exposed the vulnerability of other Nordic nations.
Helsinki’s Helsingin Sanomat reports that the supply of personal protective equipment in the nation’s strategic stockpile is being depleted, even though the coronavirus epidemic is still in an early phase in Finland. The paper states that one reason is that the preparedness of healthcare districts was not at the level that had been assumed.
Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Social affairs and Health announced that Finland’s strategic stockpiles had been opened. The move was made to ensure that there would be a sufficient supply of protective equipment for healthcare professionals nationwide as the coronavirus epidemic progresses.
Even though the stockpiles have been made available, worries about whether there is enough personal protective equipment have not subsided. “On the contrary,” writes Helsingin Sanomat, “A number of healthcare districts and the representatives of healthcare workers’ organizations have spoken of a lack of protective equipment.”
The paper asked Lasse Ilkka, Senior Advisor at Ministry of Social affairs and Health preparedness unit, if there is enough personal protective equipment available.
“I cannot say yes for certain,” Ilkka replied, “If all purchases go as planned, then there will be enough equipment. There would be a shortage, if purchases had not been made and production started. The equipment in the stockpile would not be enough to meet needs for the whole period of the epidemic.”
Director General at Ministry of Social Affairs and Health Päivi Sillanaukee told Yle on Monday that healthcare professionals make around 50 million home visits a year.
Helsingin Sanomat points out that home care for the elderly alone requires the use of some one million protective masks a week. It does note, however, that under ministry guidelines, cloth masks that can re-sterilized can also be used.
In light of these figures, says the paper, the first shipment of protective equipment purchased from China that arrived on Tuesday does not look like much of a lifeline.
The more than two million surgical masks and 200,000 other masks in the hold of the plane, at current rates of use, will last little more than a week.