COVID-19: How India Became A PPE Kit Manufacturing Hub
India is now the second-largest manufacturing hub for PPE kits in the world.
India started manufacturing PPE kits within two months of the coronavirus outbreak. This was the time when COVID-19 cases were on the rise, and there was an urgency to import PPE kits for healthcare workers on the frontline dealing with the pandemic. Gradually, to keep up with the growing demand, several Indian companies started manufacturing its own PPE kits. India now produces 4.5 lakh Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits daily, and over 600 companies in the country are certified to manufacture PPEs, according to the Smriti Irani, Union Minister Of Textiles.
Data collected by the Ministry of Family Welfare and Health states that India has about 15.96 lakh PPE kits in the centre-state buffer and orders for another 2.22 crore have been placed. Arvind Ltd, Shahi Exports, Matrix Clothing, along with Paragon Apparel are some of the 600 companies that are making PPE kits in India.
But with reports of faulty PPE kits flooding the markets, HLL (Hindustan Lifecare Limited, is the single-window procurement agency for the hospitals and healthcare organisations under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare) has come up with quality guidelines on the stringent rules on how to manufacture PPE kits.
The fabric needs to be breathable, and the fabric needs to be stitched together by a process known as hot sealing. This process of seam sealing prevents blood and other small particles, like the COVID-19 virus from entering through the seams of the PPE fabric. One PPE kit can be used for 8 hours.
"The priority is on making sure doctors, who are on the frontline of this COVID-19 battle, are comfortable when wearing a PPE kit," said Roshan Baid, MD of Paragon Apparel to BOOM.
The Invest India report, which has documented the PPE industry in India, states that the global PPE kits market is now worth $52 billion and expected to be over $ 92 billion in 2025, and India alone is a Rs 7,000-crore (nearly $1 billion) market.
"India was never into manufacturing medical textiles—including PPE kits, it was completely owned by China. This has brought us a whole new line of business to us that can be grown, sustained and exported. World over, we get a call saying that we don't want to buy out of China if you can supply to us." said Baid.
The spread of COVID-19 caused a major disruption to China, which was the largest producer of PPE kits. India is the second-largest producer of PPE kits. For Baid, India can sustain itself in the business if it shows consistency in terms of deliverability and quality of the products. "Otherwise, it could be a stop-gap thing that people don't want to buy from China right out, but it might not be so 3 to 6 months down the line," he said.
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