Bangladesh has established minimum requirements for the production of non-medical fabric masks for community use, taking an important step towards safe and regulated production of masks and providing essential guidelines to local manufacturers, the RMG sector and NGOs to join the fight against Covid-19.
The government set the standards taking 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 today.
"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 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, 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 set 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 the DGDA website at http://www.dgda.gov.bd/index.php/news/item/58.
The guideline is not a regulatory requirement for the sale of masks but rather a useful resource to guide manufacturers. It also serves as 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.
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.