Shehzil Malik proposes DIY face-masks and protective equipment

Published: April 6, 2020
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Artist Shehzil Malik has come up with simple prototypes for easy, DIY face-masks and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the form of her distinct illustrations.

The aim of her designs is to bring light to simple ways in which people can improvise in the light of shortage of relevant equipment. The artist took to Instagram to share her illustrations coupled with lengthy explanations as to how they work and why it’s important to demand better for healthcare workers on the front line against coronavirus.

In her first post highlighting the important of PPE’s for healthcare professionals, Shehzil listed down people and organisations working at the forefront to do as much as they can to manufacture and provide help on a short notice.

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Reading the news about the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers- and also those working in essential services (policemen, grocery store workers, deliverymen, volunteers…) is quite jarring. Ideally they should all be wearing medical-grade suits, masks, gloves and eyewear. I spoke to @greenvolunteersofficial who are working to distribute PPE around Pakistan, and the situation is pretty intense. The government is working on it, but at regular bureaucratic speed. There’s a shortage in hospitals in major cities and smaller towns are struggling to find supplies. I have 3 findings so far: 1. The Zaman Foundation (behind Leisure Club) is now producing PPE suits. They worked with doctors to design a suit that is made from 100% cotton with washes applied to it that makes it non-breathable and water-repellant. It is not medical grade, but is an acceptable manner of defense. I appeal to other manufacturing units to follow suit and share their knowledge with one another. Entrepreneurs like Asim Jofa and Maheen Khan are also producing PPE (thank you!)- and we need other large units to help! 2. A volunteer explained that while medical grade fabric is still available in the market, it’s hard to procure because suppliers are hoarding it, or asking for exorbitant prices. If you know a supplier doing this- tell them a profit made at the cost of people dying is a disgrace. Lives dependent on them!!! 3. The shortage of PPE will only get worse as the crisis mounts. In the worst case scenario, we will have to use DIY or juggar methods. Right now, doctors are even using garbage bags as gowns- which is terrible but also the kind of desperate ingenuity we need. A gown can be fashioned out of found plastic sheets and later disposed. You can use raincoats, parachute material, you can stitch plastic shower curtains. Before making your own DIY solution, read the guidelines for isolation gowns by the Centre of Disease Control so you know your limitations. (All resources are compiled at the link in my bio) Stay safe! . #coronavirusinpakistan #HealthWorkersDemandPPE #WENEEDPPE

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“I spoke to Green Volunteers who are working to distribute PPE around Pakistan, and the situation is pretty intense,” she shared, adding that the government is doing what they can “but at regular bureaucratic speed. There’s a shortage in hospitals in major cities and smaller towns are struggling to find supplies.”

She went on to list organisations and people that are doing their best, including The Zaman Foundation and designers Asim Jofa and Maheen Khan.

“The Zaman Foundation (behind Leisure Club) is now producing PPE suits. They worked with doctors to design a suit that is made from 100% cotton with washes applied to it that makes it non-breathable and water-repellant. It is not medical grade, but is an acceptable manner of defense,” she explained.

According to Shehzil’s research, medical grade fabric is harder to procure in the market at this time because it is being sold at exorbitant rates. “If you know a supplier doing this- tell them a profit made at the cost of people dying is a disgrace. Lives dependent on them!” she urged.

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I look at Italy as a window into the future- they are weeks ahead of us in terms of the spread of the virus and their healthcare system is at breaking point. Many of their doctors and nurses contracted the virus early on when they did not have access to protective gear. Health professionals in America, UK and now Pakistan are demanding more personal protective equipment (PPE) without which their lives are in danger while treating patients. If you have a stash of UNUSED gloves or masks, donate it to hospitals. We don’t need masks- our health workers have priority over them. I hear that Guard Filters has begun producing masks; Inditex in Spain is looking into producing medical gear. It’s all hands on deck right now! According to my friends at @greenvolunteersofficial doctors in Punjab and KPK don't have masks and PPE kits. Some of them have been using single-use masks and gloves for the last 3 to 4 days. Here are the details to donate to Green Volunteers’ efforts to distribute PPE: Rameez Mumtaz Account number: 181467253-01 Standard Chartered Bank F8 branch  Branch code 086 IBAN: PK 93 SCBL 0000 0181 4672 5301 >> If you know of other efforts, add them below so people can find ways to help<< We can't thank these brave doctors and nurses enough, but we can help them in every way we can. We also have an obligation to protect ourselves and our families so that we don’t get sick and collapse the system! . This artwork is dedicated to health workers around the world, and to Usama Riaz of Gilgit Baltistan who kept treating pilgrims from Taftan despite not having protective gear. He got infected with COVID-19 and died on 23rd March. Honor him by helping. #coronavirus #covid19 #HealthWorkersDemandPPE #coronavirusinpakistan

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She added how at this rate, the PPE crisis will only mount and the only other way is to find jugaars in the form of DIY. “Right now, doctors are even using garbage bags as gowns- which is terrible but also the kind of desperate ingenuity we need.”

“A gown can be fashioned out of found plastic sheets and later disposed. You can use raincoats, parachute material, you can stitch plastic shower curtains,” shared the artist.

She, however, emphasised on following guidelines. “Before making your own DIY solution, read the guidelines for isolation gowns by the Centre of Disease Control so you know your limitations.”

That’s not all. She also shed light on the importance of using face masks at this stage of the pandemic. “Experts now recommend that everyone should cover their face to stop the spread of the virus since it can be transmitted by talking, coughing or sneezing.”

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Experts now recommend that everyone should cover their face to stop the spread of the virus since it can be transmitted by talking, coughing or sneezing. You could show no symptoms and still be infected and spread it to others. :( Due to shortages, doctors and nurses in America are resorting to wearing bandanas, Halloween masks, skiwear- literally anything to protect themselves. Researchers are now studying the effectiveness of DIY masks in times of crisis- and say that we can make our own masks so that medical-grade equipment can go to those at the frontline. I’ve put together some DIY solutions for masks and face shields that literally use household items and school supplies- link in my bio. Even doctors who have no equipment can use these measures in an emergency situation. Please share with anyone who is struggling to find PPE. And for everyone- if you step out even to get groceries, use a mask or a scarf to cover your face. Cloth masks have their own limitations and will need to be washed after use. The data keeps changing so plz use every precaution. Stay safe! . Thank you Ukasha Iqbal for helping with the research. . #coronavirus #covid19 #coronavirusinpakistan #HealthWorkersDemandPPE #WENEEDPPE

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“Researchers are now studying the effectiveness of DIY masks in times of crisis- and say that we can make our own masks so that medical-grade equipment can go to those at the front line,” she wrote, before diving into how you too can fashion yourself a good, protective mask right at home.

She ended her post with a much-needed PSA, writing, “If you step out even to get groceries, use a mask or a scarf to cover your face. Cloth masks have their own limitations and will need to be washed after use.”

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