The Confederation of Wearable Exporters of the Philippines agreed to start the local production of medical-grade personal protective equipment coveralls for healthcare workers in response to the repeated call for increased provision of protective gear against coronavirus disease 2019.
The Board of Investments said while the Philippines was not a producer of PPEs, member companies of CONWEP, in coordination with the government, decided to manufacture PPEs. The BOI helped link the industry and the health sector in developing a medical-grade prototype that can be used even in the high COVID-risk hospital situations.
Under the partnership, CONWEP executed the design prototype of the PPE coveralls. After several tests, CONWEP refitted the design prototypes until its final approval by the Health Department and the Philippine General Hospital.
The BOI said while there were constraints in the availability of raw materials, as medical-grade fluid impermeable textiles needed to be imported, CONWEP was able to secure medical-grade materials, including the face hoodie part and garters, which has fabric importation certificates from an international accreditation company.
The materials will be air-shipped by April 9 and the rollout of production at the garment factories will immediately start after the Holy Week.
According to the PGH Hospital Infection Control Unit, “locally-made PPEs which meet standards are exactly what we need during this pandemic period which further complicated by limited access to stocks from traditional supplier.”
We at the PGH HICU have seen and tested a sample of the CONWEP-BOI PPE. Its material and design meet our strict requirements for PPEs to be used by our health force,” the PGH unit said.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said highlighted the initiative for re-purposing manufacturing by linking of resources and capabilities across different sectors where “we have to complement the production capacity of CONWEP with financial resources which lie elsewhere in the private sector.”
He said the export business of CONWEP is based on a very competitive model where margins are literally paper-thin, so while they employ a significant number of workers and are able to export Philippine-made wearables globally, they are not among the biggest Filipino companies in terms of financial resources.
San Miguel Corp. will procure the initial 10,000 pieces of PPE coveralls and donate these to PGH.
“We are grateful to Secretary Mon Lopez and his team for helping us tap local manufacturers through CONWEP who can make PPEs for our medical front-liners. When we announced our P500 million fund to acquire PPEs, our goal was primarily to boost supply of protective gear. But we also felt this is one way we can help reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our SMEs,” said San Miguel Corp. president and COO Ramon Ang.
“Now more than ever, we need local manufacturers to produce not just food and other necessities, but the very tools we need to fight this pandemic. At this crucial time, we only have each other to lean on. Filipinos helping other Filipinos. That is how we will beat Covid-19,” Ang said.
The Trade Department expects other business groups to support the project and continue local manufacturing of medical grade PPEs.