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Purchasing Of Gloves And PPE For NZ Results In Poor Quality

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the current method of purchasing of gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) is only good at keeping the price down and not effective on quality or surety of supply, leading New Zealand company Eagle Protect says.

The purchasing process impacts the health of New Zealanders as in times of crisis such as now there is a shortage of PPE available for medical and industrial use, Eagle Protect chief executive Steve Ardagh says.

“The process encourages lower price at the expense of quality and consistent supply. We would like to see a model where the government actually partners with industry to make it work, in the best interest of all New Zealanders,” he says.

“Large users, such as DHB’s and others should not just partner with the big one or two global major suppliers, who have been very and strangely quiet through all this, but with several key industry specialists.”

Eagle Protect, which has operations in Christchurch and California, is the world's only certified B Corporation business supplying disposable gloves and clothing supplier.

The B Corp certification is a rigorous check on environmental, social and business ethics and transparency, Ardagh says. It is an exclusive and very difficult to obtain certification shared with icons such as Patagonia and Danone Dairy in the US. Eagle was the first in NZ in 2012 to achieve this certification which now number over 3000 worldwide.

“We believe there are areas for improvement in New Zealand both in the PPE supply process and quality of products procured.

“The products we supply, as critical as they are for industries to continue running, have flown well below the radar, until now.

“Shortages of PPE have created significant stress to the medical system, and other industries unable to either find the supply, or because they are purchasing inferior products from the many companies who have become new PPE suppliers without any prior experience or product quality checks.

“New Zealand is seen internationally as a leader in food production and related food safety. PPE is not only needed for front line medical but also food processing as an essential industry and major contributor to the NZ economy.

“For years Eagle has been developing new and industry specific products for the food industry that do not compete with medical PPE demands. However, we do sell our gloves and other clothing to the medical industries.

“Because of the focus on price, glove quality has decreased over the years, as shown in the Otago University study and many others like it where 80 percent of samples of new and unused gloves were contaminated, likely due to poor manufacturing processes.

“New Zealand has the second-highest rate of hospital acquired infections in the developed world. Our hospitals have high rates of infectious bacteria and are not fit for purpose as biocontainment facilities for COVID-19 patients.

“If gloves are imported from less than ideal manufacturers often due to price pressure, they may come into the country pre-loaded with a range of food-borne illness bacteria, food spoilage bacteria, and in some cases pathogens directly harmful to humans.

“From our science and public research, that in the US 16 percent of all foodborne illness implicates gloves as the cause.

“That is more than seven million people getting sick every year and more than over 480 dying as a result. If New Zealand has the second-highest rate of hospital-acquired infections as Sir Ray Avery says, this is may be partly due to inferior or unclean gloves and procurement processes.”

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