Hand sanitiser on the horizon to protect local healthcare workers

Hand sanitiser on the horizon to protect local healthcare workers

UOW and Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District join forces to bolster local hand sanitiser stocks

Critical shortages of medical supplies have been a worldwide problem in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. But experts in the Illawarra are coming up with their own solution.

Researchers from the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Molecular Horizons institute, Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI) and the Illawarra Shoalhaven Health District (ISLHD) have joined forces to ensure stocks of hand sanitiser are maintained across the District.

The Molecular Horizon’s team, headed by Distinguished Professor Antoine van Oijen, found out worldwide product shortages and supply chain disruptions meant supplies of hand sanitiser were becoming low across the region.

“Senior Production Pharmacist Kerry Watts alerted the University to the problem and we wanted to offer any support we could to our colleagues in the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District,” he said.

“We have the ingredients needed and facilities available to produce up to 400 litres of hand sanitiser, a critical product to help protect local healthcare workers and the wider community during this pandemic.”

UOW’s Molecular Horizons is a world-leading science research facility and while hand sanitiser isn’t its usual modus operandi, Professor van Oijen said it’s important in times like these to come together.

“Our work at Molecular Horizons is to help solve some of the biggest health challenges facing the world and COVID-19 certainly fits that bill. We are working with pharmacists from Wollongong Hospital and our colleagues at IHMRI to make the sanitiser,” he said.

ISLHD Chief Executive Margot Mains said UOW and ISLHD shared a strong partnership and was grateful for the support.

“The District is incredibly thankful for the support of our colleagues at the University of Wollongong for mobilising so quickly and providing us with a local solution for what has become a worldwide issue,” she said.

The first batch of WHO-recommended hand rub formula was made in early April, since then 200 litres has been produced (as at 1 May 2020). The UOW and Wollongong Hospital have made plans to continue the production of hand sanitiser to ensure that the hospital has supply until their regular supplier starts delivering again.