Malaysian glove factories approved for “100% operations” to allay global shortage

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has allowed glove factories in Malaysia to work at full tilt as of April 1, 2020, despite the currently ongoing partial lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The authorities have loosened the lockdown rules to help fend off a global shortage of medical gloves for healthcare workers who desperately need the critical protective equipment.

According to the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturer’s Association’s (MARGMA) appeal to MITI, it had initially supplied a complete list of their member companies’ workers and kept glove factories as thinly staffed as possible, at any one time. On the condition that MARGMA sticks to those rules, MITI has approved certain companies to now operate at full capacity. The move would have a significant impact on the coronavirus pandemic, which has affected more than 1,650,000 people and killed over 102,000 others, given Malaysia’s dominance in the industry.

MARGMA President Denis Low is thus confident to be able “to supply the 225 billion pieces of gloves which the world will need this year.”

Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) has expressed support for Malaysia’s latest decision – the EU Ambassador to Malaysia Maria Castillo Fernandez explains, “We applaud the Malaysian government’s decision to allow goods manufacturers and their supply chains involved in the production of vital medical equipment to operate at needed capacity to meet the urgent global demand for these medical supplies.”

“Malaysia is the world’s largest producer of medical gloves; it plays a very important role by contributing to avoid a shortage of this essential medical equipment, for Malaysia, for the EU and for the whole world,” she said, adding that gloves were notoriously difficult to source otherwise.

Since the approval, the Managing director of Malaysian glove company Brightway, Govindasamy Baskaran, said his factories were back at full staff by the first week of April. Baskaran – who has some international customers running out of their glove stock already – claims that there have been cases where medical frontliners had to work without gloves, amid an unexpected global shortage.

However, Jeremy Lim, Co-director of global health at the National University of Singapore’s Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health claimed Malaysia’s move “will be very, very important” to alleviate said global shortage.