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#WorldMaskWeek, UNICEF supplied over 320M masks to fight Covid-19

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, sourcing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) became challenging due to unprecedented demand worldwide. PPEs such as medical/surgical masks have met their peak demand, resulting in a supply shortage. Preventing the spread of infection to and from health care workers and patients relies on effective use of PPE—gloves, face masks, air-purifying respirators, face shields, respirators, and gowns. A critical shortage of these is projected to develop or has already been set in high-demand areas.

Primary health care employers may need to work with various commercial PPE suppliers beyond their traditional suppliers to ensure that adequate PPE stock levels are available and maintained; thus, enabling safe and effective infection prevention and control.

UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund) has been working with other United Nations organizations, governments, and industries to speculate demand and secure masks with utmost quality. These masks need to have an affordable price to ensure a fair distribution, particularly to low- and middle-income countries. Since the virus outbreak started, UNICEF has sent 301.3 million surgical masks and 22.2 million N95 respirators that have reached 127 countries.

Surgical masks are medical masks that are recommended for the use of health workers.  They are loosely fitted. They create a physical barrier between the mouth and nose of the wearer and potential contaminants in the immediate environment. Surgical masks are classified into three different levels based on their filtration efficacy: Type I, II, IIR.

UNICEF procures Type I and Type IIR. The mask meets specific fluid protection standards and Class I or Class II flammability tests. While Type I masks have a bacterial filtration efficiency of 95, Type IIR can filter 98 percent of particles of 3 micrometers. 

UNICEF ensures it only purchases PPE that meets all required standards.

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