Bangladesh, which in the recent past faced crunch of health protection materials like PPE (Personal Health Care Materials) and masks, has now secured a strong position in the export of healthcare products.
In the last few months, Bangladesh has exported health care products worth Tk 4,500 crore to 71 countries. The owners of many garment factories have also started investing in these new products as copious purchase orders pouring in.
With coronavirus pandemic ringing the alarm in the country last March, there was an acute crisis of personal protective equipment (PPE) and masks for the uses of doctors. The country's ready-made garment sector, which was losing the existing work orders, has come forward for production of these health care items. After meeting the local demand, these health care items are now being exported in a large quantity.
At present, at least 45 garment factories in the country are making various materials including international quality PPE, masks, hats, aprons, hospital bedsheets and face covers. In a matter of months, materials worth US$ 500.10 million have been shipped to the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the European Union. In the first two months of the current financial year (July and August), PPE exports have stood at US$ 130.5 million.
According to businessmen, only PPEs and aprons and gowns worth US$ 350.15 million have been exported from Bangladesh since the beginning of coronaviruas pandemic. In addition, three-tier surgical masks worth US$ 10.14 million have been exported. The purchase orders for these products were coming at a time when the buyers were canceling or suspending the purchase of other products.
AM Chowdhury Selim, the vice-president of the Bangladesh Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) told media, "Large purchases of health-care products are coming from the United States, Eurozone countries, Brazil and many others".
As the demand for Bangladeshi health-care products continues to grow in the international market, export-oriented garment owners are setting up separate units to manufacture these products.
BGMEA Vice President Arshad Jamal said, “Several factories are making PPEs and masks. We expect more orders to come for such products throughout the year. In the meantime, Bangladesh has exported large quantities of medical gowns, gloves and other protective equipment to the United States and other countries.”