A factory belonging to a member of the government-approved “national team” of surgical mask manufacturers was earlier this month found to have surreptitiously supplied Chinese-made masks for the official mask distribution system. This revelation caused consternation among the public.
Hanging on the office wall of the president of the company concerned was a series of “secret tips” about how to make money from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tips said that when an illness breaks out, you should stop delivering to your old customers and start selling your products at high prices to new customers.
Then, when the breakout is over and those customers stop buying, you can go back to your original customers. As long as you offer low prices and soothe them, you can start bonding with your old customers again.
Apart from investigating and prosecuting dishonest manufacturers such as this, the government should also review the shortcomings of the “national team” system.
It should turn words into action by proposing a set of measures to improve the system in response to the case.
The core members of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) are experts in medicine and public health. Although they devote themselves wholeheartedly to fighting COVID-19, they might not be very proficient regarding the quality control and quality assurance of masks made by the “national team.”
Until now, when shortcomings have arisen in the production, distribution and sales of masks, the CECC generally tackles the symptom rather than the cause. Consequently, there are still many loopholes that have not been exposed. These hidden loopholes pose a threat to Taiwan’s disease-prevention efforts.
The CECC could set up one or more distribution centers that would be responsible for inspecting deliveries from “national team” factories and for managing inventories.
It could outsource the job of transporting and distributing “national team” masks to designated distribution channels, thus reducing costs and the time required for transshipment via post offices.
It could also establish a “quality control circle” with the participation of manufacturers, distribution centers and distribution channels to strictly control the quality of “national team” masks.
Such measures would help to perfect the manufacturing, distribution and sales system, thus assuring the overall performance of disease-prevention efforts.
The only way to prevent problems or catch them at an early stage is to start with the various aspects of management.
Constant vigilance is needed to prevent malpractice. Unworthy businesspeople must be made to understand the business norms that they must follow.
Apart from seeking to profit from their investments, they should also fulfill their social responsibilities.
Only through concerted efforts by the government and the private sector can another outbreak of COVID-19 be prevented and the public be set at rest.
Leon Liu is a freelancer.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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