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Solon urges gov't to mass-produce face masks amid worldwide shortage

Anakalusugan party-list Representative Mike Defensor urged the government to consider mass-producing face masks amid the worldwide shortage of the protective covering due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-2019) outbreak.

“Our sense is, it might be practical for the government itself to be ready all the time to steadily produce large quantities of face masks, not just to help us fight off COVID-19, but also other highly infectious respiratory diseases that might emerge in the future,” Defensor said in a statement.

“We simply cannot rely forever on imported supplies during potential global health emergencies,” he added.

Governments in Asia, as well as other parts of the world, have been scrambling to import and collect face masks in the face of the COVID-2019 threat. China alone, being the center of the outbreak, had ordered up to 1.2 billion of the item for its citizens.

On the other hand, Thailand and other countries that produce face masks have begun limiting exports to ensure their own supplies.

“Large private manufacturers in India are able to mass-produce the masks for as low as P1.00 (or two US cents) apiece, so cost should not be an issue if the (Philippine) government itself resorts to fabricating the device,” Defensor said.

“The government should consider importing the mask-making machines and find ways to assure a stable supply of raw materials to guarantee sustained production, if necessary,” he added.

The Department of Trade and Industry last month ordered the state-run Philippine International Trading Corp. to look for ways to import up to five million face masks from other countries in addition to local suppliers, but there was no indication if it had obtained the needed number. — Erwin Colcol/DVM, GMA News