By Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero
On 18th May, 2020, H E President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni directed that all Ugandans aged 6 years and above should be given a free reusable face mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Ministry of Health apologizes for the prolonged delay in distribution of the fabric face masks which is beyond our control.
Government of Uganda committed funds and directed that implementation of the exercise should be within the framework of Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU). This is to ensure that we use Ugandan cotton, Ugandan Manufacturers and employ Ugandans.
To-date, 44 districts across the country have received a total of 16,092,780 masks out of the planned 34 million masks.
However, the distribution of face masks faced challenges which caused the delay in distribution within the stipulated time. The challenges which include; material sourcing and production capacity which slowed the speed of distribution have largely been addressed. Additionally, the distribution plan was drawn to begin with border districts followed by districts with cities and municipalities, districts along cargo truck routes, and others.
The Ministry of Health has been informed about the poor quality of some of the masks supplied by certain companies. It has been observed that these masks do not meet the required specifications of Ministry of Health and the set standards of UNBS.
In order to address this challenge, the companies have been tasked to improve the quality according to the set standards provided by Government.
In the event that the company does not adhere to the recommended standards, they will be dropped out from the list of suppliers. Furthermore, the suppliers have been directed to put the company label on each mask in order for the public to hold them accountable. Qualification of the failed face masks is on going with dialogue for replacement.
I would like to reassure all Ugandans that Government is committed to distributing face Masks as promised to all Ugandans above the age of 6 years old.
The Ministry appreciates all Ugandans for their patience, vigilance, embracing proper use of masks, hand hygiene and social distancing measures.
Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero is Uganda’s
Minister for Health.