Bangladesh hopes to start producing medical-grade PPE in six months

  • Faysal Atik,
    Published: 2020-03-30 03:23:02 BdST

Bangladesh, the second largest exporter of readymade garments in the world, will need six more months to start producing medical-grade personal protection equipment or PPE, Rubana Huq has said.

The president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association in a statement on Sunday said the time was required for approval, training and preparing plants.

The RMG makers of the country had already started producing 20,000 PPE, but these are of “Level 1”, which do not have the standards set by the World Health Organization, she said, as the coronavirus pandemic has aeen a worldwide cry for the PPE.

PPE consists of protective clothing, gloves, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from infection.

From their experience of making these “Level 1” PPE, they understood that it will take six months to reach the capacity to produce WHO-standard PPE, the BGMEA chief said.

The fabrics for the PPE will need to be imported from China, and the factories will need to be airtight to be free from virus while special sewing machines will also be needed, according to Rubana.

“The workers will need some training. Certificates will also be required. These jobs will need at least six months to complete,” she said.

In Bangladesh, at least three doctors have been infected with the virus after treating patients without PPE. Several other doctors and health workers have also been quarantined.

Rubana said the 20,000 PPE being made now will be given to the government for distribution.

“These are only watertight. The design is like the real PPE. These can be used by assistants to doctors most of the times. The doctors who are afraid of treating patients now can also use these,” she said.

They have a plan to import suitable textile from China and produce PPE of better quality in 15 to 20 days, Rubana said.

The “main target” of producing medical-grade PPE will be export as the demand for the equipment has skyrocketed with no cure or vaccine for COVID-19 in sight within several months, or even years, according to the BGMEA president.

“We want to start the work shortly. We’ve discussed the issue with the ILO, WHO, WFP, UNICEF and another group of organisations. We’ve sought their cooperation to upgrade our capability. They will support us with both supply chain and technical knowledge,” she said.