Malaysia will send more than 20 million medical rubber gloves to five African nations battling the deadly Ebola virus, addressing a crucial shortage faced by overwhelmed health workers, the country's Prime Minister Najib Razak announced on Monday.
The Southeast Asian nation is a leading manufacturer of rubber gloves, producing about 60 percent of the world's supply of latex medical gloves.
Health authorities say that a shortage of rubber gloves in affected African nations has led to more deaths and raised risks that the virus will spread among doctors and nurses.
The outbreak has now killed upwards of 2,400 people, mostly in Liberia, neighboring Guinea and Sierra Leone as poorly resourced West African health care systems have been overrun.
“Malaysia can make a unique and vital contribution to the fight against Ebola because we are one of the biggest manufacturers of rubber gloves,” a Malaysian government spokesperson said in a statement.
“We hope this contribution will prevent the spread of Ebola and save lives.”
Many companies offer help
Among the companies supplying the shipment are Sime Darby, Top Glove Corp., Kuala Lumpur Kepong, and IOI Corp., the Prime Minister's office said.
Top Glove alone has a production capacity of 42 billion gloves a year and exports to 200 countries.
Shares in the big rubber glove companies have rallied in recent weeks as fears grow that the virus could spread.
The Malaysian government did not say whether it or the companies were footing the bill for the shipment.
Malaysia will send 11 containers, each holding 1.9 million gloves, the statement said. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea will each receive three containers, while Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo will each receive one container.
Elsewhere, Malaysian health authorities have also reportedly quarantined a Zimbabwean student in a hospital in Sarawak state on Borneo island after he sought treatment for fever Saturday, the French news agency AFP reported.
Jerip Susil, a state public health official, was quoted by The Star as saying that the 24-year-old, who had been in contact with students from Nigeria, was not vomiting or suffering from diarrhea but was under observation as a "precautionary measure," AFP reported.
Test results are expected later this week. Jerip and other health authorities could not immediately be reached for further details, according to AFP.
The Ebola outbreak has ravaged West Africa, killing more than 2,400 people since it erupted earlier this year.
Some materials for this report came from AFP.