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Kazakhstan Increases Safety Mask Production

PPE helps when used properly

Photo: Dolce-Pharm

The country may increase its personal protective equipment (PPE) production to nearly 1.5 million masks per day making a bid to capitalize on the still high demand for such items even after the easing of strict quarantine measures. 

PPE is soaring all over the world. According to Grand View Research, the sales of single-use masks have increased from $800 million in 2019 to $74.9 billion in the first quarter of 2020 with total year sales topping $166 billion.

The high demand is a real stressor for all PPE manufacturers to include Kazakhstan’s Dolce-Pharm.

Tough conditions

Dolce-Pharm is the largest Kazakhstani producer of single-use medical devices, consumables and safety wear. According to research data for 2016 (this is the only marketing data available), the company produced 80% of all domestic devices that had been made from flash-spun fabric. The traditional suppliers of raw materials for Dolce-Pharm are Russia, China and Malaysia. However, when the coronavirus struck China, the country closed its borders, which caused Dolce-Pharm to source raw materials from another supplier in Turkey. This shift resulted in increased cost per mask for final consumers.

Dolce-Pharm eventually managed to negotiate with their Chinese counterparts in order to speed the release of materials that were stalled at the border.  It took the Almaty administration and Atameken chamber to step in and resolve the issue, which resulted in a new green corridor for raw materials.

To boost production, Dolce-Pharm implemented round-the-clock shift, which culminated in their adding 130 new jobs for workers and medical staff. For now, the company employs more than 400 people who work on a three-shift basis.

This work regime was in place even when Almaty was put on the quarantine with checkpoints and movement limitations. All workers were relocated to just outside the town so as to be closer to the factory. Due to the strenuous work conditions coupled with being far from their families and loved ones, Dolce-Pharm attempted to assist its employees psychologically. It wasn’t an easy task because the company couldn’t organize the more traditional team-building activity or family-day event amid the quarantine.

As a result of their hard work, Dolce-Pharm produced nearly 3 million masks in March alone that is huge quantity if compared to 2.3 million masks produced by the company in the entire previous year.

What Makes the Ideal Mask?

Dolce-Pharm is the only Kazakhstani firm that produces masks with a carbon filter and the company is very proud of this. Technically, this type of mask is very simple but includes a special layer made from an activated carbon filter. According to lab tests, this mask can prevent absorption of cholera, tuberculosis, anthrax and brucellosis pathogens and can be worn for almost four hours.

Every safety masks are made from water-repellent material to reduce the risk of bacteria growth. In addition, those kinds of masks can contain FFP1, FFP2 and FFP3 filters.

As Dolce-Pharm executive director Marzhan Omarova noted, “If you are going to make a mask on your own, then use at least four layers of gauze.”

Regardless, all masks, be they medical or hand-made, should be worn following these simple rules:

•    Only don your mask for a maximum of two hours
•    Do not touch your mask ‘shield’ (i.e., touch only its ties)
•    Handle a used mask with sanitizer
•    Roll and bund your mask before disposal
•    Wash hands carefully after touching your mask
•    Used masks should only be thrown out in designated waste receptacles or special containers.

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