The global response to the unfolding COVID-19 crisis saw countries implementing total or partial lockdowns, the announcement of stimulus packages and relief measures to tackle the harsh economic impact of the pandemic. The virus also overwhelmed the global production capacity of the personal protective equipment (PPE), which is the most critical product to protect the frontline health workers and other responders.
Similar situations were facing India as well but the country moved quickly, implementing a nationwide lockdown with the goal of flattening the curve and using the time to plan resource responses, adequately. India realized the critical role of PPE in combating this pandemic and has made a remarkable journey so far.
The PPE kits were initially all imported because of no domestic manufacturing resources and there was a sudden surge in prices due to less availability. Thereafter, many Indian manufacturers started production of PPE and ramped up the domestic capabilities. India now is the second largest producer with a capacity of more than 4.5 lakh PPE per day. This incredible rise of a whole new industry within a time-span of months is only a proof that India has the potential to become a manufacturing hub of the world.
According to a report by Invest India, the domestic PPE industry grew 56 times in a span of 60 days. On March 1, two days before the World Health Organization (WHO) spoke of a global shortage of PPE, India had no PPE coveralls suitable for COVID-19.
But a clear roadmap and prompt assistance by the Ministry of Textiles and all its allied bodies, ensured India becomes a world leader in PPE manufacturing amid a global shortage. At present, India has 10 laboratories approved for testing and certification of PPE coveralls for COVID-19.
“After receiving the WHO guidelines on PPE, in less than a month’s time, 14 manufacturers cleared rigorous technical testing and started manufacturing indigenous PPE for our frontline health workers”, says Smriti Zubin Irani, Union Minister of Textiles and Women & Child Development, Government of India, New Delhi.
The Ministry of Textiles is continuously conducting market regulations and due diligence by taking stringent actions on suppliers/manufacturers whose proto-type samples for PPE have failed laboratory tests but are still reaching the market.
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