KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) is seeking the government’s approval for its members to operate at 100% capacity to meet urgent local and global demand in the fight against COVID-19.
Its president Denis Low fears that if the situation is not addressed urgently, it might lead to a chronic shortage of medical gloves.
"MARGMA will continue to talk to the government to allow us to operate at 100% capacity. Together with the support services and material suppliers, we must all work in tandem,” he said in a statement.
According to him, Malaysia uses about 120 million pieces per year, which could be easily be met, and MARGMA has assured the Health Ministry that there would be no shortage.
"But meeting the demand from the rest of the world is going to be very challenging due to the Movement Control Order (MCO), whereby rubber glove manufacturers are allowed to operate but with just 50% of its original workforce.
"We believe that soon, many governments of the world will be writing to the Malaysian government to seek consent for the rubber glove industry to operate at optimum capacity in order to supply these very critical medical gloves,” he said.
The United States, for example, has lifted its ban on one of Malaysia’s rubber glove manufacturers, WRP Asia Pacific Bhd, to cater to the nation’s demand for personal protective equipment to fight COVID-19.
Reuters today reported the US Customs and Border Protection as saying that disposable rubber gloves made by WRP would be admissible at all US ports of entry.
"Malaysia can save lives, and the rubber glove industry will do its part,” Low asserted.
Spreading across 196 countries, COVID-19 has so far infected some 372,757 people and has claimed 16,231 lives.
To ramp up rubber gloves production, Low said workers have to work overtime and will be compensated accordingly and adequately with hardship allowance.
"It is obvious that production will also be curtailed by the 50 per cent workforce policy, thus all in all, production costs will increase by at least 25% to 30%, not taking into consideration the ripple effect that will pervade throughout the supply chain.
"Fortunately, buyers are aware of this cost factor and have come forward to assist and cooperate to bear the cost as well,” he said.
As Malaysia is the world’s largest producer of medical gloves, MARGMA is duty bound to ensure that enough gloves are supplied to hospitals and all healthcare providers in their fight against the pandemic, said Low.
"We are expected to deliver about 225 billion pieces this year, which is about 65% of the total world requirement of about 330 billion pieces,” Low said.