EMCO: Glove producers plead to continue ops

If the industry is shut down, no surgery would be possible without the sterilised gloves

by SHAFIQQUL ALIFF / pic by TMR FILE 

THE Malaysian Rubber Gloves Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) is calling for an urgent meeting with the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) to resolve issues surrounding the imposed Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) as 58% of glove producers in Malaysia are in Selangor.

Its president Dr Supramaniam Shanmugam said there is a big fear going around the global healthcare sectors when the possibility of a shutdown of the glove industry was announced, as medical gloves are sorely needed to protect the frontliners and hospital staff.

“The worry is further heightened when it comes to surgical gloves. If the industry is shut down, no surgery would be possible without the sterilised surgical gloves.

“We are urgently appealing to the government to allow these glove factories to continue to operate, while adhering to strict standard operating procedures,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He said since the government’s announcement on the enforcement of the EMCO in Selangor, MARGMA’s customers around the world have been calling with great concern about shortage of glove production and delivery.

“Our members are under tremendous pressure from global hospitals and healthcare workers as the pandemic has now evolved into another variant,” he added.

MARGMA members collectively produce and export gloves to 195 countries around the world. Hence, Malaysian manufacturers play a big role in response to the Covid-19 crisis as the largest producer of gloves, supplying 67% of global consumption.

Supramaniam said demand for gloves this year is expected to remain at 420 billion pieces with 13,318 pieces used every second around the world, while demand is expected to grow by 15% to 20% next year.

Moreover, Supramaniam said MARGMA members have been supportive of the government’s effort to fight the spread of the pandemic by coping with the 60% ordinance in Full MCO to ensure no severe shortage of gloves to the world.

However, he said, the EMCO will now further hamper the supply situation.

Since April this year, industry players have agreed to pay for their employees’ vaccination.

All glove employees, besides being registered for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme on MySejahtera, are registered with the Public-Private Partnership Industrial Covid-19 Immunisation Programme or Pikas, Selangor Vaccination Programme or SelVax and the Vaccination Programme for the Agri-commodity Sector or Vacoms.

“However, until today, we are still waiting for the delivery of vaccines.

“MARGMA has appealed to the government to make saliva-based Covid-19 test kits available as soon as possible, and our members have agreed to bear all costs, as it will greatly enhance the frequency for screening workers,” Supramaniam said.

The global demand for gloves remains extremely robust in the healthcare sector and MARGMA members have been urged to pay more attention to supplying to hard-hit nations, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and South American nations.

Just last week, in response to public pressure to close down factories for being the main contributor to new Covid-19 cases, MITI Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said it is unfair to blame the manufacturing sector alone as from the 507 clusters detected between June 1 and June 23, 195 were linked to the manufacturing sector.

He added that data by the Health Ministry also showed that the manufacturing sector contributed only 9.3%, or 12,872 cases from the total 138,649 throughout the same period.

However, following the EMCO implemented in most parts of Selangor and some parts of Kuala Lumpur from Saturday, the government announced that only food manufacturing factories and producers of daily essential needs would be allowed to operate, listing rice, white bread, sugar, cooking oil, flour, fresh milk, baby milk formula, drug and face mask producers as permitted businesses.