Editorial : New standard for PPE manufacture very appropriate to combat COVID-19


Ghana’s fight against the novel coronavirus has received a welcome boost of support from the Global Quality Standards Programme (GQSP) for the development of standards for personal protective equipment (PPEs), sanitizers and related items.

The UNIDO-GQSP collaboration has developed a national standard for alcohol-based hand sanitizer and a publicly available specification for the re-usable face masks manufactured in Ghana.

Wearing of face-masks in public is now mandatory as an avenue to curtail the spread of the deadly virus. And as a consequence, many local producers of face-masks and hand sanitizers abound in the Ghanaian market, but the question is: do they meet the required standards?

Thankfully, the UNIDO-GQSP collaboration has ensured a national standard for alcohol-based hand sanitizer and a publicly available specification for the re-usable face masks manufactured, so that Ghanaians can now distinguish between what is meets the required standard before patronising, or purchasing such personal protective equipment.

The implementation of these standards will ensure that PPE and hand sanitizers are fit for purpose – are safe and can be relied on.

GQSP is a Swiss-funded project implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry with the Ghana Standards Authority as one of the lead implementing agencies.

Ghana’s focus on the production and wearing of face masks is dictated by a Presidential directive that makes the face mask a mandatory wear in public spaces. Enterprising Ghanaians have responded to the call to locally produce such PPE to cut down on importation of same which comes with its cost implication.

This has necessitated the need for a quality standard to guide local manufacturers – thus the UNIDO-GQSP support is a timely one. The standard requires, among others, that re-usable face masks should have good breathability, be comfortable to skin and be able to filter out particles.

Additionally, the collaboration has also developed a national standard for alcohol-based hand sanitizers which is crucial in the fight to contain the deadly virus. Other adopted standards include those for ventilators, gloves, PPEs for medical staff as well as for the sanitary workers.

This development will guarantee quality assurance in the manufacture of PPE for domestic use so that sub-standard PPE will be discarded and avoided. The flooding of locally-manufactured face-masks in the market makes it difficult to determine which is the most appropriate, that is why the national standard comes as a welcome relief.

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