After masks and disinfectants, now women's groups make PPE

NEW DELHI: Working quietly behind the scenes, women across India are leading the fight against the 19 through Self-Help Groups that start with disinfectants and are now also intervening to manufacture Personal Protective Equipment for front-line workers. While more than 1.96 crore masks and more than 1 lakh liters of disinfectant have been manufactured so far, SHGs have prepared around 5,000 PPE kits from 27 states and Union territories.

According to the report-based rural development union ministry of state missions under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission, SHG members as part of PPE kits are making aprons, gowns, and face shields. For example, in Punjab, the State Rural Livelihood Mission reported supplying 500 aprons to civil surgeons in Kapurthala. Meghalaya reported the supply of 200 face shields to the district medical health officer. Karnataka has also reported the production of 125 masks. SRLMs from Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab have reported the production of face shields, worn by SHG members.

Meanwhile, more than 78,373 SHG members across the country have produced more than 1,996 crore skins. According to MoRD officials, these efforts aim to secure supply and overcome any potential mask shortages on the market, and to provide a durable, low-cost, reusable option for front-line workers. SHGs are also reaching poor and low-income communities that cannot afford to repeatedly buy, wear, and throw away single-use surgical masks.

The wise breakdown of the state shows that Andhra Pradesh SHG leaders have made more than 31.77 lakh masks, the highest among the states as of April 8, followed by Tamil Nadu with more than 31.61 lakh masks. Madhya Pradesh is in third place with more than 19.35 lakh masks.

Previously, the ministry issued detailed notices to state missions under NRLM about the wide range of activities that SHGs can engage in to contain the spread of the Corona virus. The list also includes making masks, disinfectants, gloves, soap, and reaching the hungry through community kitchens. Various categories of masks, including 2-3-layer woven and non-woven surgical masks, are being made from cotton masks in accordance with the advice of the Ministries of Health and Consumer Affairs.