The current global pandemic, COVID-19 has generated a significant level of innovation and productivity across Barbados. The highly demanded personal protective equipment (PPE) has caused businesses to shift their production.  Similarly, individuals have seized the opportunity to earn a new stream of revenue.

At least two of the country's local garment manufacturing companies, Yankee Garments and Barbados Industries Ltd., which both specialise in the production of school and corporate uniforms, are now producing a range of trendy, non-surgical, cloth face masks for frontline workers, essential services sectors and the general public.

Additionally, several Barbadians who possess the requisite sewing skills, have also taken on the challenge to produce and sell a number of these protective masks which are also decorative.

Students of the leading technical and vocational tertiary institution, The Samuel Jackman Prescod Institute of Technology (SJPI), are currently embarking on a project to produce face shields and masks. The PPE Fabrication Project is being coordinated by Shanika Roberts-Odle, Project Manager attached to the Prime Minister's Office.  She explained that the 3-D printed equipment is for frontline workers.  The equipment can be sanitised, reused and repaired if damaged. The 3-D printers were purchased by the Inter-American Development Bank for the 'Skills for the Future Programme'.

Principal of the SJPI, Ian Drakes, welcomed the initiative and noted that the institution wanted to push technologies in a positive, disruptive way. The SJPI is also looking at the possibility of producing ventilator splitters and other parts.

The project is being funded by the Maria Holder Memorial Trust.  However, there are a number of additional investment opportunities for Corporate Barbados to partner with the SJPI to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in Barbados.

Originally published 30-04-2020

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