Coca-Cola halts ads in Malaysia, channels funds towards Covid-19 containment

Yiswaree Palansamy
Coca-Cola said that it is fully committed to help contain the Covid-19 outbreak in Malaysia. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, April 1 — Coca-Cola has announced that it will channel its advertising budget towards efforts to contain the Covid-19 outbreak.

On its official Facebook page yesterday, the company said that it is fully committed to do everything in its might to help, stating that its priorities have now shifted.

“From today, commercial advertising of Coca-Cola and all our brands in Malaysia will be put on hold.

“All our committed advertising space and budgets would be redirected towards supporting Covid-19 relief and response efforts,” it added.

Coca-Cola said that its funds would now be redirected to provide food for the less fortunate, as well as supporting the “incredible efforts of the healthcare workers on the frontline.”

Medical frontliners in the country have been lacking medical essentials, such as face shields and personal protective equipment (PPE), as they conduct an increased number of Covid-19 testing on patients.

Malaysians, however, have rallied to pool resources to aid them.

Plastics manufacturers have stepped up to donate and supply hospitals and frontliners with items as a response to the shortage of PPE.

The Malaysian Plastics Manufacturers Association (MPMA) organised a donation drive among its members, calling on them to give what they could to hospitals facing shortages of disposables, including mineral water, face shields, aprons, gowns, shoe or ankle covers, bottles and goggles.

Angkatan Sukarelawan Asas Sejahtera (ASAS) of Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) managed to source 1,000 pieces of new head covers or head scarves, a crucial component of a full PPE unit.

According to ASAS in its Facebook post, these head covers are usually washed in a health facility premise and are not allowed to be brought home.

Responding to the Occupational Safety and Health Association of Sarawak General Hospital’s appeal for the donation of medical disposables for healthcare workers there, Sarawak DAP had earlier managed to raise RM100,000 worth of PPE.

Among the items sourced include coverall suits (Tyvek or equivalent), head covers, isolation gowns, boot covers, N95 respirators, and face shields or goggles.

The total cost to purchase these items ex-factory is RM107,050.00.  Freight charges to send the items to Kuching was sponsored by a DAP member from West Malaysia, while Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen, Pandungan assemblyman Wong King Wei, Pending assemblywoman Violet Yong, and Bandar Kuching MP Kelvin Yii have made individual donations for the purchase of the PPE items.

Chong, however, said the items listed are only for the immediate and short term needs of the Sarawak General Hospital.  For long term supply, the government needs to quickly step in to ensure continuity of supply of disposables.

Another initiative is from 3D Printing Malaysia Community for Covid-19.

This initiative was kicktarted by Facebook user Nurfaiz Foat who on March 21 posted his idea to mobilise Malaysians to use 3D printers to print the plastic face shield holders and simple readily-available materials to make face shields for distribution to frontliners, using a design — adapted from Josef Prusa’s original design — which he said takes 40 minutes to print for each plastic holder.

The Facebook page was later created on March 22 to enable coordination of such 3D printing efforts for face shields.

Separately, Biji-Biji Initiative, Me.reka, Taylors University, and Taylors University’s Me.reka Makerspace have teamed up to produce face shields at four decentralised locations including three in the Klang Valley and one in Johor, having noted the shortage of PPE such as face shields and estimated use of 40,000 face shields for one hospital alone. 

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