SINGAPORE: Inmates in Malaysia are making personal protective equipment (PPE) masks for frontline workers battling the coronavirus pandemic.
“The production of PPE (masks) for frontliners is to show the public that these inmates, regardless of social status, can offer aid to relieve the burden of relevant parties,” Rohaida Mohamad, public relations officer at the Malaysian Prison Headquarters’ Division of Prison Policy, told Arab News on Sunday.
At present, 30-40 inmates from 21 prisons across Malaysia are making 100-130 PPE masks every day.
The initiative is championed by the Prisons Department of Malaysia’s Corrective Services (PDMCS), the body that provides corrective programs for inmates.
Mohamad said the PDMCS has taken the initiative to assist the Health Ministry by “utilizing the skillset of prisoners to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
She added: “Prisoners, just like anyone else in a functional society in Malaysia, deserve a second chance to correct their mistakes and to give back to the community.”
Many of the inmates are no stranger to sewing — one of the courses offered under the prison’s rehabilitation program, which provides vocational training.
Other courses include knitting, carpentry and baking, with products and handicrafts sold at supermarkets under the MyPride brand.
The raw materials for the PPE masks are provided or funded by hospitals and personal donors.
Malaysia has been under a complete lockdown since March 18, with the latest tally showing 5,742 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Saturday.
Despite a few positive signs of the curve flattening, health authorities said earlier this month that many hospitals were running low on PPE supplies.
Mohamad said she is awe-struck by “the tremendous determination and spirit” displayed by the prisoners.
“It may look modest, but during this kind of crisis it can have a huge impact in helping the country,” she added.