Our Updates

Addressing Human Rights Issues in the Healthcare Supply Chain

May 26, 2022 9:34:58 AM posted in Manufacturing, Human Rights

In our reasonably comfortable western world where personal rights have long been established and cherished, we don’t generally tend to think about the extent of human rights abuses in other parts of the globe. And yet, it does occur and its effects are even present in our healthcare supply chain space, especially with respect to medical exam glove manufacturing.

In a recent Repertoire podcast, host Scott Adams talked with Sri Trang, USA President, Billy Harris, about Withhold Release Orders (WROs) issued by the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency for human rights violations. They discussed how the CBP can issue a WRO if it believes a company is in violation of one of the following human rights abuses as defined by the International Labour Organization (ILO):

  • Abuse of foreign workers
  • Deception
  • Restriction of movement
  • Isolation
  • Physical and sexual violence
  • Intimidation and threats
  • Retention of identity documents
  • Withholding wages
  • Debt bondage
  • Abusive work and living conditions
  • Excessive overtime

Harris was quick to point out that this issue is primarily an ethical issue, but one which can create a supply problem. 

This JD Supra article provides a historical review of the creation and utilization of WROs by the CBP in the struggle against other countries using forced labor and engaging in other human rights abuses. 


The importance of Customs and Border Protection

Harris noted that it comes down to this; Customs and Border Protection, 100% at their own discretion, can issue Withhold Release Orders against the products of any company that they believe to be engaging in any of the eleven human rights abuses indicated above. This means that those products cannot be released into the USA for distribution through our supply chain. Those products must be stored until the order is lifted, or returned back to their country of origin. If the WRO converts to a “finding”, then the CBP can seize those products, in which case they cannot be returned to the manufacturer. He also noted that it may take over a year from the time the WRO is issued to when it is lifted. If the WRO converts to a finding, it then takes even longer.

He also noted that Malaysia has had a large number of WROs, - particularly for medical and exam gloves - which is supported by this Withhold Release Orders and Findings List reported by the CBP. He noted that at least six medical exam glove manufacturers received WROs in the past few years and that only two have had the orders lifted.


Impacting healthcare distribution

Harris reiterated that this constitutes an ethical issue which then leads to a supply shortage and potential financial loss on the part of US healthcare distributors. Since the distributor may have already paid the glove manufacturers for those products, but they are not allowed to enter the US supply chain, the distributor must face a financial challenge including storage costs during the WRO. 

Adams was diligent in bringing the conversation back to the question of how all this impacts the healthcare distributor rep in what they have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. Harris responded by referring back to the ethics of the issue, and the integrity of the distribution company. How do they want to be perceived by their customers? Do they want to come across as having scruples and ideals, or just wanting to increase their bottom line?


Together, we can Outsmart Infection®

Sri Trang USA offers a full line of Ventyv® brand disposable medical gloves to suit all your patient care needs. We are a leading global glove manufacturer that provides consistent, quality products to keep wearers and patients protected, and dedicated to ethical business practices. 

To listen to the full podcast, click here.

Read More