TAIPING, Feb 10 — The regional chapter of Young President Organisation’s (YPO) is contributing three million medical-grade gloves to hospital workers in Wuhan, China, who have been at the frontline in the battle against the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak since last December.

 The gloves, produced by Comfort Rubber Gloves Industries Sdn Bhd, will be shipped out today by road and the delivery is expected to reach 71 hospitals in Wuhan on February 16.

“YPO Sea Dragon Chapter has been directly affected by the Wuhan coronavirus. We have cancelled our upcoming events in Seoul and Taiwan and our businesses have also been severely disrupted.

“The very fabric of the communities and activities within and without China are being slowly torn apart and we see it as our duty to do what we can to help alleviate the situation, especially in the epicentre of the crisis,” its assistant forum officer Lai Voon Wai said at Comfort Rubber Gloves’ office here yesterday during an inspection of the shipment with YPO Sea Dragon regional chapter members Chew Wai Ming, Siang Lim and Seah Yeok Chee before the gloves were loaded onto a truck.

YPO Sea Dragon is a business organisation comprising chief executives. Its regional chapter comprises members from Malaysia, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Myanmar.

Lai said the glove donation was a way for members to express their feelings to their Chinese counterparts facing the health and economic crisis.

“We want our friends and the Chinese people to know that we care, we stand in solidarity with them, and we would like to help,” he added.

Comfort Rubber Gloves executive director Sean Cheang, who is also a member of the YPO Sea Dragon regional chapter, said that it took them five days to produce the 3.74 million gloves.

“These gloves are not for surgery. They are examination gloves usually used when they check on patients, extract blood and for a few other medical works,” he said.  

Lai said that the idea was conceived on January 27, after one of their China-based members sent out a message seeking medical consumables to protect medical workers in Wuhan.

He said the group had the idea to send gloves as Malaysia is the largest producer of rubber gloves, with over 60 per cent share of the world market.

“After follow-up discussions, we got to know that the demand was for every form of protective clothing,” he said.

Lai said that the group was able to procure the three million gloves worth RM300,000 within two weeks.

“After having identified the source of the quality, Comfort Rubber Gloves’ nitrile gloves that meet the requirements set by the Chinese authorities, we kicked off our fundraising on January 30 and by February 3, we had met our target through the kind contributions of our YPO SEA Dragon members,” he said. 

Lai also said an additional 740,000 gloves were sponsored by Comfort Rubber Gloves in support of YPO Sea Dragon’s initiative. 

The Young President Organisation’s (YPO) Sea Dragon regional chapter assistant forum officer Lai Voon Wai showing three million medical grade gloves for hospital workers in Wuhan, China. — Picture by Farhan Najib
The Young President Organisation’s (YPO) Sea Dragon regional chapter assistant forum officer Lai Voon Wai showing three million medical grade gloves for hospital workers in Wuhan, China. — Picture by Farhan Najib

The biggest challenge for the group was finding out how to get the gloves to the hospitals in need of them as many flights to China had been stopped due to the outbreak. 

But Lai said the process taught YPO Sea Dragon to broaden their options and consider logistical alternatives.

“Through the introduction of one of our China members who has been at the forefront of donating her own money, raising external donations and identifying supplies of much needed materials to the Wuhan crisis, we have been able to link up with our preferred partner in the Hubei Charity Federation,” he said. 

“Finally, we have come out with a list of 71 hospitals that will be direct beneficiaries of the gloves, with just 200,000 gloves left to HBCF to distribute at their discretion,” he added.

He related that the group decided to truck the shipment of gloves into China after deciding that it would be more time-consuming to find air freight firms willing to fly in their medical aid cargo within short notice.

He thanked ICCL Express Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of ICCL Sdn Bhd of Malaysia, and YFL (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of YATFAI Group of Hong Kong, and TVC Transport Co Ltd of Thailand, for agreeing to sponsor the cost of the transportation from Malaysia to China via Thailand and Vietnam.

ICCL Group head of corporate management Mohd Heerman Haminnudin who was also present at the glove drive said that the trip to Wuhan via land will take approximately seven days.

 “It will take about six to eight hours from Malaysia to the border of Thailand. Then the container will be transferred onto a Thailand truck and will take about 35 hours to reach Thakhek, Laos.

“From Thakhek to Lang Son, Vietnam will take about another 22 hours before it can reach Ping Xiang, China. From there the container will be transferred onto a Chinese truck and will require another 24 hours before reaching Wuhan,” he explained.