Giving Compass’ Take:
• Entrepreneurs in Uganda began collecting plastic waste and producing face shields and protective gear for local public hospitals.
• How can other entrepreneurs leverage innovation to problem-solve and respond to COVID-19?
When the Ugandan government ordered all non-essential workplaces shut to contain the coronavirus pandemic in late March, Peter Okwoko and his colleague Paige Balcom kept working.
But the pair — who had been turning collected plastic waste into building materials since last year — shifted gear and instead began manufacturing makeshift plastic face shields from discarded plastic bottles.
When they posted pictures of their prototypes on social media, they got a surprise phone call from the local public hospital.
“The doctor from Gulu regional referral hospital requested we make 10 face shield masks urgently because they didn’t have enough” and the hospital had just received its first COVID-19 patient, said Okwoko, 29, a co-founder of Takataka Plastics.
The social enterprise set to work shredding plastic, melting it, and shaping the liquid plastic into face shields and frames. Soon a first set of shields was delivered.
But “in the afternoon, the hospital called again. They said they needed more face shields because the previous ones had worked out well for them”, Okwoko said.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to burn around the world, it has also caused severe disruptions in supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The problem is particularly severe in poorer countries with few resources to pay high prices in a competitive global market. In March, WHO officials urged companies around the world to increase production by 40% if possible to meet growing demand.
Read the full article about turning plastic waste into COVID-19 protection gear by John Okot at Global Citizen.
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