The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has partnered with the Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines (CONWEP) to produce 300,000 locally-manufactured personal protective equipment (PPE) for the country’s healthcare workers.
To address the deficient supply of PPE in the country, DTI launched the Bayanihan PPE Project with the garment exporters of CONWEP and the Department of Health (DOH) to help the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) through the local production of medical-grade PPE coveralls.
On Wednesday, 22 April 2020, the Inter-Agency Task Force against Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID)—through DTI, DOH, and CONWEP—turned over to PGH the first 10,000 of the 300,000 locally-manufactured PPEs.
“This collaboration by the government and the private sector aims to develop our country’s capacity to produce medical-grade PPE. This will also meet our demand for these vital medical supplies throughout the pandemic and beyond,” said DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez.
“There is really a need to create local manufacturing capacities to reduce import dependence, especially at a time when there is also a global shortage of critical medical supplies like PPEs and masks. Self-reliance is key to our strategy,” the trade chief added.
The project is an initiative by DTI and the Board of Investments (BOI) to repurpose economic activities for the manufacture of health and medical products to address the COVID-19 situation. It leverages on the strengths of local firms and industries, particularly in product development, logistics and production systems, and the country’s skilled workforce.
While CONWEP, with the assistance of BOI, executed the design of the PPE coveralls, DOH and PGH ensured that the approved prototype can be used even in high COVID-risk hospital situations such as operating rooms, COVID-19 positive wards, ICUs, and the like.
To further address the shortage in PPEs, DTI issued on 11 April 2020 Memorandum Circular No. 20-15, which extends the daily operating hours of retail establishments authorized to operate during the enhanced community quarantine. DTI also approved the temporary increase of workforce capacity for manufacturers of essential goods to ensure sufficient supply of these necessities during the quarantine period.
With the increased supply and ongoing production of PPEs, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque is hopeful that public healthcare workers and frontliners at PGH will be fully equipped to serve without fear and doubt as they face their day-to-day challenges.
“We are also future-proofing the Philippine health sector. We will continue to seek out ways to lessen the various risks to our frontliners as their safety and well-being remain our top priority,” Sec. Duque said.
Meanwhile, Secretary Lopez highlighted that another important component of the initiative for repurposing manufacturing is the linking of resources and capabilities across different sectors.
He expressed his thanks and appreciation to San Miguel Corporation for procuring the initial 10,000 pieces of PPE coveralls, to Minebea for donating 15,000 N95 masks to PGH, and to Steel Asia for pledging support to the Bayanihan PPE Project.
The trade chief likewise extended his gratitude to the UPS Foundation, Air21, and the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation for their help in facilitating the airlift of fabrics from Shenzhen to Cavite, including the waiving of fees for transport and logistics.
“I am optimistic that this collaboration between the private and public sector will encourage other business groups to give support to the Bayanihan PPE Project,” Sec. Lopez said.
“By locally-manufacturing medical grade PPEs we not only protect those who are at the forefront of this health crisis, but also create a sustainable local supply chain amid the ongoing pandemic,” he added.
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