Health Ministry said that the huge establishment and expansion of local medical equipment manufacturing firms have been playing a pivotal role in reducing the country's dependence on the importation of face masks and other Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) prevention items speaking to The Ethiopian Herald,
Health State Minister Sahrela Abdullahi stated that due to the high demand created by COVID-19, many textile companies are switching to the production of surgical face masks thereby contributing share in the import- substitution strategy.
Noting that Ethiopia has obtained most of face masks through imports and donation from international institutions including the Jack Ma Foundation, Sahrela indicated that many governments are currently banning the export of face masks due to the upsurge of the pandemic. The ministry has been floating international tenders to avail surgical face masks to the growing number of health professionals that are deploying in COVID-19 treatment and isolation centers.
"We have witnessed huge consumption of surgical face masks at the centers," she said, adding that that local firms' investment in this sector will have paramount importance to supply quality products and ease the shortage.
The government has disbursed substantial amount of hard currency to the purchase of COVID-19 preventive items including personal protective equipment (PPE), oxygen tanks, beds and ventilators and it encourages private sector's involvement in the production of medical equipment.
Guyya Medical Equipment Manufacturing Company is one of the leading domestic firms that have been engaged in the production of facemasks.
Owner and CEO of the company, Mubarak Kemal said that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed's call to all Ethiopians to partake in the fight against COVID-19 encouraged his firm, previously known as Guyya Textile Manufacturing, to shift business from the garment to medical industry.
Accordingly, the young businessman has invested a total of 10 million USD to the manufacturing plant that is located in Bethel, Kolfe Keranyo Sub City and to import raw materials and other related expenses.
Commenced operation in April 2020, Guyya initially produced 250,000 surgical face masks in a daily service whilst imported non-woven 99 percent bacteria- filtering raw materials from China, Saudi Arabia, UAE and other countries.
"Up on going fully operational, Guyya has the capacity to produce close to one million surgical face masks in a daily operation," Mubarak said, adding that the company has a plan to export face masks to international market whereas satisfying the local demand. The factory has also hugely engaged to enhance the production of kid's face masks considering the imminent reopening of schools.
Having mentioned the difficulty they have faced to obtain additional plot of land, the CEO stated that the situation forced the company to execute half of its capacity. Addressing bureaucratic and infrastructural setbacks investors have been encountering in the operation phase is instrumental to enable the private sector to supplement government's COVID-19 control efforts, he stressed.
Guyya Medical Equipment Manufacturing Company was inaugurated by Health State Minister Dr. Dereje Deguma and other high-level government officials last July.