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India’s profitable journey to self-sufficiency in PPE kits

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By Amit Kapoor & Sandeep Goyal

The AtmaNirbhar Bharat (Self-Reliant India) mission was launched because of a disaster brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Government of India (GoI) had set out on a frightening path of turning a disaster into a chance. Nevertheless, the nation proved that it’s doable. The profitable growth of an indigenous provide chain of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits in mere 60 days is an instance for native producers that self-reliance in a high-quality product is an achievable aim.

When the virus reached India on 30th January, native producers didn’t have the potential to supply PPE kits like physique coveralls, that are required throughout pandemic state of affairs and categorized as class-Three safety stage underneath ISO 16603 commonplace. India was fully depending on imports, so one other disaster within the type of export restriction of important medical provides across the globe worsened the well being disaster. In March, Niti Aayog estimated that that we would wish 20 million PPE kits and 40 million N-95 masks, which translated to 20,000 PPE kits and 400,000 h-95/FFP-2 class masks per day by July.

With zero capability and solely few days to spare, the federal government confronted an uphill activity to make sure the protection of the individuals and the healthcare workers together with docs, nurses and paramedical workers.

The GoI performed a essential function within the journey. To start with, a virus spreading at an exponential price meant that the healthcare sector may collapse underneath scarcity of class-Three PPE kits, so the choices needed to be made quickly and with minimal errors. It started with planning, which concerned a joint examine by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and MoT undertaken in February-March for understanding the gaps within the present infrastructure, sources, and total, for end-to-end manufacturing, testing, and packaging of the PPE kits as per the WHO high quality requirements. Both textile and healthcare business consultants had been concerned together with business associations and main manufacturing firms in India, with the GoI on the helm.

Another problem was the standard of the PPE kits manufactured, which needed to adjust to the stringent high quality requirements. The pilot run within the strategy planning stage revealed {that a} majority of native producers weren’t capable of produce the appropriate material to face up to Synthetic Blood Penetration Test in accordance with ISO 16603:2004 (Class-Three publicity) specs. The South India Textile Research Association (SITRA), a textile analysis group was instrumental in testing samples through the pilot run. By 22nd March 2020, take a look at samples of solely 4 producers may move the take a look at, thus stopping the initiative from scaling up. This led to a different daring resolution, launch of “Operation PPE Coverall” by MoT on 24th March, the identical day the nationwide lockdown was introduced.

The subsequent step of capability constructing course of was itself a herculean activity which coupled with one other problem within the type of the lockdown. SITRA was the one lab conducting checks, so earlier than scaling up manufacturing, MoT and MoHFW targeted on establishing a community of testing labs throughout the nation. Amidst the lockdown, on eighth May, it was reported that seven extra NABL-accredited laboratories apart from SITRA have been permitted for testing PPE Coveralls. Building up a community of labs ensured environment friendly testing of PPE kits throughout India and discount in post-production timeframe concerned in testing, clearance, and dispatch of the PPE kits.

MoT and MoHFW then focussed on growing a PPE provide chain, getting particular approvals and clearances for coverall and material producers, facilitating inter-state logistics, streamlining worldwide coordination, and enabling round the clock help to the producers on operational points. The course of required immense coordination between manufactures and suppliers at completely different ranges of the provision chain, testing laboratories, regulatory authorities and different related establishments. There had been regulatory roadblocks, operational points, info hole, together with heightened logistical points thrown into the combination owing to the lockdown.

The concerted efforts by the MoT and MoHFW ensured that these gaps had been plugged. For instance, to bridge the data hole, the GoI concerned DRDO, Alternative Energy Promotion Centre (AEPC), and Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) and Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) to disseminate the essential details about high quality, processes and methods of addressing technical and useful resource points. They additionally introduced on board main producers like Aditya Birla to share their experience. Through coordinated effort, the GoI was thus capable of develop the enterprise ecosystem the place native producers might be guided by larger gamers out there and business associations. This was one of many many duties facilitated by the GoI by 5 teams constitutes to supervise 5 completely different elements of capability constructing.

In addition, the GoI additionally constituted an empowered committee to handle the operational challenges and for facilitating the supply of time-critical medical provides. The Cabinet Secretary additionally monitored all of the challenges and points and addressed them in a time-bound method.

The entire course of demonstrates the function of the federal government as a facilitator, which concerned extra-ordinary management, a significant a part of which performed out within the ground-level execution. The success was pushed by the single-minded focus of the MoT and MoHFW, dedication of all stakeholder from the highest to backside and a gradual monitoring of the scope of the initiative, the restricted time-frame and the standard of the PPE kits. In this manner, an importer nation of high-quality merchandise was capable of remodel itself right into a self-sufficient nation in manufacturing of PPE kits that complied with WHO high quality requirements. In truth, India has been capable of obtain this milestone in a matter of 60 days from the launch of Operation Coverall.

As of 12th May, India was manufacturing 200,000 models of PPE Body Coveralls and 200,000 models of N95 masks every day. In July, India’s indigenous provide of PPE kits had exceeded the home demand and it exported 23,00,000 private safety tools (PPE) to the US, the UK, Senegal, Slovenia, and UAE. India was thus capable of remodel from an importer nation to a self-sufficient one and later an exporter nation in PPE kits.

Thus, the concerted efforts of the federal government, companies and a number of stakeholders turned this disaster right into a golden alternative for indigenous producers. This profitable journey has grow to be an inspiration for different indigenous producers, and the AtmaNirbhar Bharat mission is there to help these producers to behave on their aspirations. The authorities has set out on a war-footing to make India self-reliant in addition to a worldwide provider. Now, the best way ahead is for different sectors to copy this success story.

Amit Kapoor is chair, Institute for Competitiveness, India and visiting scholar, Stanford University. Sandeep Goyal is fellow, Institute for Competitiveness, India.

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