Bangladesh has established minimum requirements for the production of non-medical fabric masks for community use, making an important step towards safe and regulated production of masks and providing essential guidelines to local manufacturers, RMG sector and NGOs to join the fight against Covid-19 .
The government made it possible with technical expertise from the World Health Organization (WHO).
The activity has been carried out under the Bangladesh Preparedness and Response Plan, said the UN office in Dhaka on Tuesday.
"We welcome the new set of standards which will make it easier for national manufacturers and NGOs to produce washable masks at an affordable price. This way we can avoid disposable masks adding to the waste problem," said Mia Seppo, UN Resident coordinator in Bangladesh.
"We're very proud to have supported DGDA in making Bangladesh among the very few countries in the world with such standards for fabric masks, a major step forward in ensuring the population have access to quality protection masks, as this is proven to be an intervention with very high community impact in preventing the transmission of the new coronavirus," said Dr Bardan Jung Rana, WHO Representative to Bangladesh.
In addition to support for elaborating the standards of mask production, the UN is also working closely with the government for the implementation of information campaigns aimed at increasing awareness about the importance and correct use of fabric masks, together with other protection measures such as maintaining physical distance and observing hand hygiene.
The standards have been developed in coordination with Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) with technical advice from WHO, who led a working group of local PPE experts supported by USAID, JICA, BUET, ICDDR,B and FAO to elaborate the specifications and minimum testing requirements for fabric masks.
The guidelines follow WHO recommendations and incorporate specifications and quality control parameters to produce the non-medical fabric masks by local manufacturers.
The new standards and quality control parameters are available online on DGDA website at http://www.dgda.gov.bd/index.php/news/item/58.
The guideline is not a regulatory requirement for the sale of the mask but rather a useful resource to guide manufacturers to produce selection of quality masks and a set of parameters for local testing laboratories to conduct appropriate tests, said the UN office.
The following key parameters were considered to design fabric masks for community use: filtration efficiency, breathability of the fabric mask, and properties of the material.
More information regarding the correct use of masks and additional protection measures can be found on government and WHO websites at www.corona.gov.bd respectively www.who.int/Bangladesh.
In this regard, the UN together with central and local authorities, development partners, local and international NGOs are conducting information campaigns through a wide variety of online and offline channels to convey essential protection information to individuals and communities.
The UN said it continues to work with the government of Bangladesh on the response to the Covid-19 pandemic in a coordinated manner through medical and non-medical interventions.