Last year when the country went into lockdown as the coronavirus began spreading and hospitals were overrun, it exposed shortfalls within the medical sector and its dependence on procuring Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from outside South Africa. It was then that Proudly South African – the country’s official buy local advocacy campaign – collaborated with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) and brought together industry, government entities and organised labour to address the demand for PPE needed to assist healthcare professionals who were in the eye of the storm.
South African was ill-equipped to meet the daily demands of healthcare needs for medical masks, aprons, and disposable gowns as the country’s dependence on imports and the related price increases in PPE worked against the fight. Locally, there were only five companies capable of producing the masks but were not licensed by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) to supply products for use in clinical settings. It was then that Proudly SA assisted in forming a partnership between the private and public sector to license companies who went on to produce more than 15 million masks a month to meet the demand.
This partnership – under the heading of the PPE and Medical Equipment Local Manufacturing Partnership (LMP) now has certified entities produce masks, gowns, aprons, face visors, sanitisers and disinfectant, testing kits and gloves. According to Proudly SA CEO Eustace Mashimbye, production volumes have increased so substantially in some areas that there is a need for an export workstream, looking for the best markets and opportunities for local companies that have sufficient surplus production and relevant certification to allow them to export their goods. This new partnership also allowed textile and clothing factories to re-purpose their production lines to produce fabric face masks that met the recommended guidelines.
“The LMP is an example of the success that public-private partnerships can achieve and one of which we are extremely proud. If your company has the opportunity to be part of one that can benefit all parties, do not hesitate to support it,” says Mashimbye.