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05 March 2021

Auckland-made face masks trialled by DHBs

A collaborate initiative between NZ Health Partnerships (NZHP), Auckland and Waikato District Health Boards (DHBs) and manufacturer Lanaco, could see locally produced masks being made available to all DHBs.

Trials are underway for fit testing, performance, design and comfort with health workers at the two participating DHBs. If the trials are successful, the masks will be available to all 20 DHBs for purchase.

“Through this initiative, we will see reduced supply chain times and more rapid distribution as everything is being done on our shores,” says Procurement Manager Wilfrid Rodrigues.

“This will support the supply of face masks to health workers, while also reducing environmental impacts normally associated with importing.”

Auckland DHB Director of Starship Child Health –  Medical and Community, and Paediatric Emergency Specialist, Dr Mike Shepherd adds: “We’re excited at the prospect of having a sustainable, reliable source of N95-equivalent masks that will provide optimal protection for our workers.”

The trial outcomes will inform design improvements, with further trials expected to be offered to DHBs in the South Island and lower North Island in 2021. “We’re pleased to be working with our partners, NZHP and the DHBs, to create these organic-based masks, which offer much lower breathing resistance than existing products.

“It’s also a great opportunity to work collaboratively with DHB frontline staff to improve mask fit and performance,” says Lanaco CEO Marc Michel.

The Auckland-based manufacturer uses wool sourced from its sheep operations on specific South Island farms to make its Helix™ filtration material, a key component of the face mask.

Lanaco developed a breeding programme over a seven-year period to optimise the filtration properties of its wool fibre for human respiratory health applications.

Lanaco is New Zealand owned and operated, and supplies NASA and other organisations internationally with its respiratory filtration solutions.