Surgical masks, gloves, footwear, and other apparel is seeing an increase in demand within healthcare facilities for the protection of patients, as well as doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers. Outside of healthcare facilities, surgical apparel is increasingly being used to protect against germs and the threat of disease, which has been seen an increase as of late due to the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases.
The demand for and popularity of surgical apparel is growing within healthcare facilities at a very fast rate. This is in large part, due to increased health and safety measures. Recent public health crises—including cases of the Ebola virus in the United States in late 2014—have caused facilities to re-evaluate their safety precautions and make changes in order to more effectively and securely protect staff and patients. The average healthcare worker today is exposed to a number of new and increasingly dangerous diseases and pathogens, and proper procedures must be in place to prevent the spread of these diseases and the infection of staff and patients. Reusable surgical gowns are one of the most popular categories of medical apparel, as they provide full-body protection, and are easy to launder or dispose of if necessary.
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Another reason for the growth of surgical apparel is that more people are in need of healthcare. According to Statcan, in 2015 people aged 65 years or older outnumbered children between the ages of 0-14 in Canada. More than 16% of Canadians were age 65 or older and, by 2024, this percentage is expected to have increased to 20.1%. People in this age group are generally more likely to need healthcare—this includes surgical procedures and hospital admittances. The statistics are comparable in other North American countries, resulting in a greater need for surgical apparel for both healthcare workers and patients.
Surgical apparel is also seeing some demand from outside the healthcare industry. Due to increasing worries about disease, many individuals are donning surgical masks and gloves in order to protect themselves from germs, bacteria, and harmful pathogens. Some individuals will take serious precautions to avoid germs: according to OpenWorks, approximately one third of American parents refuse or have refused to allow their children to ride the school bus due to concerns about it being unsanitary; additionally, half of parents said that they pack their children lunches from home in order to avoid the perceived uncleanliness and germs in school cafeterias.
Concerns are also growing about diseases such as the measles and the mumps, which are seeing a worrying resurgence in certain parts of North America and Europe—places where they were thought to be almost entirely eradicated— reportedly due to the anti-vaccination movement, which is strongly against vaccines for children. In Toronto, Ontario, there were more than 20 confirmed cases of the mumps by the end of February of this year, an astonishing amount compared to the 5 cases the city usually sees annually. In the US, there were 23 cases of the measles in January 2017 alone, spanning across six states. According to the CDC, the majority of the people who contract these diseases are unvaccinated; many are unvaccinated children. Unvaccinated or immunocompromised people who wish to avoid contracting these diseases use surgical apparel to protect themselves in public, at school, and at work. As the number of cases of these diseases continues to rise, the demand for apparel such as surgical masks, gloves, and surgical gowns will also increase.
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