A Chinese factory in Shandong Province has increased production of hazard protection suits by 30-to-40 percent compared to a year ago, providing protection for healthcare workers who are fighting Ebola, Associated Press reports.
About 100 factory workers are producing more than 6000 suits a day, according to the AP. The suits not only have to keep health workers safe from the virus — they have to be flexible. The fabric includes polyethylene — the most common plastic used in plastic bags — and polypropylene, often used in packaging, labeling and bank notes.
The hazmat suits are just more than a quarter millimeter thick. They are shipped to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, as well as to hospitals in the U.S.
The number of workers in the Chinese factory and the amount of equipment used to manufacture these suits has doubled to meet the demand, AP reports.
In a CNN opinion piece, Martha Pease said the hazmat suit is a symbol of fear but it can be reintroduced as a crucial piece of the solution to the Ebola outbreak. “Here it’s a costume. There it saves lives,” said Pease, whose company, DemandWerks, advises companies on strategies for growth.
An international humanitarian and medical organization with a history of advocating for vulnerable populations, MDM joined ad agency Publicis Kaplan Thaler in the U.S. to turn public fear of Ebola around by asking people to donate a hazmat suit to workers in Africa, according to CNN.
Medical workers are also at risk of becoming vulnerable to stigmatization and marginalization as a result of their direct contact with Ebola at its source, Pease said. “This threat to their status comes at a time when we most urgently need doctors and caretakers on the ground in Africa,” she said.