The Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference and Exhibition (DIHAD) is the region’s largest humanitarian event, organised under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance. Held annually in Dubai, the three-day conference and exhibition attracts over 2,000 participants from government, inter-governmental organizations (IGO), UN agencies, NGOs, commercial companies and donors, and this year, Cambridge Mask Co had the privilege to exhibit and rub shoulders with major influential bodies, all in the name of networking, education, and a sustainable future. In attendance was our Founder and CEO, Christopher Dobbing, Head of B2B Sales, Andy Eley, and Marketing Head, Clarissa Walsh. Held over the course of three days (14 to 16 March 2022), the DIHAD summit was the perfect opportunity for Cambridge Mask Co to spread its mission of cleaner air and a cleaner planet. Notable organisations that we had the opportunity to converse with were:
- The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHRC)
- World Food Project (WFP)
- International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
- Global Humanitarian
- International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
- European Union
This year’s theme was sustainability, which gave Cambridge Mask CO the opportunity to share the plastic waste saving opportunities with organisations using millions of single use masks. Cambridge Mask Co can help to reduce plastic waste in the sector by hundreds of tonnes, having already saved one chain of UK garden centres 30 tons of plastic waste.
We were incredibly grateful to meet a slew of interesting people and to converse about issues close to our heart and ones in common with the various organisations we had the privilege to share our technology with. One of the dialogues that really stood out is the vital need for cost effective, reusable and washable face masks in various developing nations. It is these regions that truly need sustainable and affordable solutions in terms of health and protection. Respiratory illness can affect those fleeing war-torn areas such as Ukraine, Syria and Yemen, as well as areas such as Southeast Asia and parts of Africa where respiratory diseases like TB are still very prevalent.
TB’s continual threat in countries like India, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Nigeria, Bangladesh and South Africa means that immediately actionable solutions are required. The Cambridge mask can do just that; and because it’s an eco-friendlier option (washable and reusable) than single-use plastic masks, it won’t go straight to landfills in those areas and exacerbate already existing environmental issues. Some developing nations don’t have the means of properly disposing of single-use masks, thus making the Cambridge mask an all-round superior alternative.
Other big talking points were Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), a condition that has become known as the ‘silent pandemic’, as well as the growing plastic pandemic, both of which have global ramifications, but are prone to be more concentrated in developing nations. AMR kills 1.2 million people around the world and according to the WHO, if the trend persists, that number is set to reach 10 million by 2050. This means that AMR could very well become more dangerous that HIV/AIDS, TB, and diabetes combined. In developing countries like India, China, and South Africa, infections can be contracted simply by exposure to bacteria. Cambridge masks filter 99% of viruses and bacteria, making its use in countries in which AMR is most likely to become rampant an immediate and long-term solution.
The application of the Cambridge Mask also stood out in our conversations because of its environmental friendliness and respiratory and diseased-defending abilities. Air pollution is one of the biggest threats we face. According to the WHO, 7 million deaths occur annually because of air pollution and data has revealed that 99% of the world breathes air that exceeds WHO guideline limits. Facts like these highlight the instant utility of the Cambridge mask, which immediately goes to work once covering the nose and mouth of the user. In countries like China, our masks have grown in popularity, while in countries like Nepal, we have won the government tender to supply their police with masks for 4 years. The issues of air pollution and climate change need immediate addressing, but the eventual eradication will take years, years that can be saved through the use of a Cambridge mask.
Our conversations with the UNHRC revealed that 4 million people have left war-torn Ukraine, the result of which is turning into a massive refugee crisis. The matter is escalated by the fact that only 35% of Ukrainians have been vaccinated, and thus, what neighbouring states now face are legions of under immunised people seeking refuge. This means that respiratory protection - the kind that filters 99% of viruses, bacteria, and pollution - is going to be vital for all parties involved. Areas of conflict like Ukraine are typically saddled with debris in the form of dust, asbestos, and smoke, which can become noxious and persist for months due to intermittent burning. In dire scenarios like this, the level of filtration that the Cambridge Mask PRO provides, by way of its UK military defence technology, can make the difference between life and death.
Our conversations with the IFRC revealed that their staff operate around the world and need the kind of protection that our BASIC mask can provide. Our masks:
- Filters 99.6% of what you breathe
- Kills viruses and bacteria
- Last for 340 hours, replacing up to 170 single use masks/4kg of plastic waste
- Have already helped over 1m people
Our attendance at the DIHAD summit was a valuable learning opportunity, and we look forward to forging new partnerships, and most of all, to helping those that need it most, wherever we can.