As the significant shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in many countries has impacted the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic over the past 18 months, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) is supporting PPE manufacturers in developing nations like Vietnam to supply reliable and quality PPE products to protect frontline health workers and reduce community transmission.
In Vietnam, PPE manufacturing capacity surged with a six-fold jump in production in 2020 and the country has emerged as one of the new PPE suppliers globally. This ramped-up supply was initially driven by textile manufacturers shifting production in response to the health emergency and to mitigate losses caused by canceled orders for garments.
Some textile manufacturers who started producing PPE products as an immediate response to the pandemic, are now considering the medium to longer-term business opportunity in this area, said Vu Duc Giang, Chairman of Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association. However, local manufacturers have struggled with insufficient input materials, technical skills and sector knowledge, and the disparity between local and international standards to access the global market.
In response, as part of the global PPE advisory program supported by the UK Government, IFC is working with local garment manufacturers through the Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) and national labs through the Directorate for Standards, Metrology and Quality of Vietnam (STAMEQ) to improve PPE producers’ operations and reduce costs by removing unnecessary burdens related to PPE standards and conformity assessments.
A kick-off webinar—PPE Supply and Demand Perspectives—was organized in Hanoi in collaboration with VITAS. This is the first of a series to boost PPE-related industry knowledge, with a focus on technical requirements and standards for PPE products in different markets. Over the next 18 months, the project will also support select manufacturers to scale quality PPE production, access a reliable supply of materials and equipment, and achieve PPE international standards and certification to expand exports.