Selangor Lockdown Disrupting Global Medical Glove Supply: Manufacturers

French healthcare and medical glove distributor Euromedis SA says Malaysia must perform its obligations to France and to the world to ensure adequate supply of medical gloves to the hospitals.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 – In an immediate response to queries and the flood of messages from embassies, hospitals and health care sectors from across the world, Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) president Dr Supramaniam Shanmugam has acknowledged the concern and apprehension of all, and has vowed to seek a quick solution to the impasse, whereby the Malaysian government has imposed a total lockdown in the state of Selangor.

The state hosts the largest congregation of medical rubber glove manufacturers, and combined, they produce about 58 per cent of the world’s medical examination and sterilised surgical gloves. 

Since last Saturday, all medical glove manufacturers in Selangor have been instructed to cease production under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO). This took the industry by surprise, since medical gloves have been an essential personal protective equipment (PPE) item for frontline health care workers.  

Thus, it is understandable why such a sudden instruction to shut down the industry has caused no small amount of consternation. 

The importance of medical gloves is evidenced in the fact that when a child is born, the first thing that he or she touches is a pair of gloves, and it will most probably be made in Malaysia. Our nation supplies about 67 per cent of total glove consumption globally.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the global health care industry have recognised medical gloves as PPE for infection control. Dr Supramaniam has questioned how such an important PPE item be not classified as an essential item.

“It is incomprehensible, as surgery and the examination of patients in critical cases cannot be done without donning a pair of protective medical gloves. It is in the health care SOPs for sure. Health care workers must be protected in order to protect humanity,” said Dr Supramaniam.

MARGMA has been inundated with expressions of concerns from its global buyers.  A major French health care and medical glove distributor, Euromedis SA has expressed its concern about the shutdown.

“Malaysia must perform its obligations to France and to the world to ensure an adequate supply of medical gloves to hospitals. This sudden closure is sending a bad signal that Malaysia is not  capable in fulfilling its global supply as a leading medical glove producer. It is also about responsibility,” said Mathieu Roturier, Euromedis SA chairman and CEO.

Dr Supramaniam has pleaded with the Malaysian government to immediately reinstate the production of all medical glove manufacturers in Selangor.

“Notwithstanding the huge economic losses to the nation, we have a more important duty and responsibility to ensure that there is no disruption to this very essential medical item for the nation, as well as the 195 countries who depend on our supply pipeline. Remember that Malaysia is the undisputed world leader in this field, we have a duty to perform,” said Dr Supramaniam. 

Meantime, MARGMA, in its engagements with the various ministries, has assured the authorities that it will supervise and monitor its members to practise the strictest compliance with all the SOPs as laid out by the MOH.

MARGMA has a special unit that will work with the MOH in managing and supervising manufacturers in Selangor. Its employees are also on the vaccination waiting list.

Likewise, MARGMA will ensure all the latest SOPs, as stipulated by the authorities, including PCR/RTK screenings twice a week, will be carried out accordingly. 

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