Institutional procurement of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) has been high on government’s agenda in response to fighting the Coronavirus pandemic and the safety of citizens, especially frontline health staff.
Many public institutions and Agencies depend on government for supplies of PPE, to provide protection for workers and when that is not forthcoming or the supply is inadequate, the gaps pose a danger.
Role of government
The Government at the onset of the pandemic prioritized procurement of PPE, and GHC3.6 million worth of the safety equipment was pledged in response to the crisis, which continued with the support of CSOs and other agencies using both local, national and international supply channels.
However, over the pandemic period so far, the rise in reported cases of COVID- 19 continue to push further the challenge to find rapid procurement arrangements and contracts for PPE supplies to meet demand.
Creation of jobs
The urgent need for face and nose masks has whipped up innovations and solutions to the challenges of the crisis, giving hope to dress makers and youth whose businesses otherwise were dwindling due to the pandemic.
Young men and women in the dressmaking business have ventured into the ‘new normal’ with face masks production to fill the markets, with some of the products branded to suit companies, institutions and organizations.
During a visit by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) to some districts in the Upper East Region, it was noted that some of the innovations and fashion trend of face masks made for some public institutions such as the security services, health institutions and other organizations were unique.
Whilst some institutions were using recycled pieces of institutional cloth to sew face masks, the security services and various associations were producing branded ones to support their workers and members respectively.
At the Bolgatanga East District, the Zuarungu Nursing Training College has used the surplus institutional cloth and pieces of nurses school uniform fabric to sew facemasks to supplement government’s supply.
Mr Michael Mantamia, the Principal of the Zuarungu Nurses Training College said the school produced the face masks for the final year students, who were preparing for their final examination.
Other branded face masks identified were those of the Ghana fire service, the Ghana Police Service and the Red Cross of Ghana among others.
Meanwhile, some Senior high Schools in the Upper East Region, specifically in the Bongo and the Kassena Nankana West districts were yet to receive their share of government’s supply of PPE.
Other schools have received only sanitizers and Veronica buckets without Facemasks.
Mr Thomas Aseliga, the Regional Manager, Standard Board Authority, in an interview acknowledged the local production of such face masks and stressed the need for testing them to ensure safety before use.
He encouraged local producers to ensure they followed the required process of producing their masks to provide safety for users.
Meanwhile as law E.I 164 comes to force to criminalize non-wearing of face masks, it has become mandatory in public places for all citizens to wear masks and that has driven many people to go into its production.