By Spy Uganda
Kampala: The low mass production capacity of local manufacturers hampered the nationwide distribution of face masks, the Minister of State for Primary Healthcare, Dr Joyce Moriku, has told Parliament.
“The total production mass capacity was expected to be 800,000 per day as promised by the Uganda Manufacturers Association. However, this number has not been achieved at all with a significantly low output,” she told MPs during the plenary sitting on Tuesday, 6 October 2020.
The minister alluded to procurement delays, prolonged consultations by various stakeholders and quality assurance implemented by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards as some of the other bottlenecks to the mask distribution.
She said this prompted the ministry to phase the distribution of the masks starting with high-risk border districts, cities, municipalities and districts along cargo truck routes.
The ministry, Moriku said, resolved to remedy the low production of masks by engaging small tailoring groups around the country and businesses engaged in textiles to supplement to the mass production.
The minister told the legislators that as of last week, 68 districts had received face masks totalling to 20,952,447 masks out of planned 33 million masks.
The ministry has also supplied about half a million masks through a mosquito net distribution exercise and another one million masks through UN agency for refugees.
When President Yoweri Museveni declared a countrywide lock-down due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March this year, he vowed that government would distribute free face masks to residents starting with border districts followed by Kampala and Wakiso before rolling out to other parts of the country.
First Deputy Prime Minister Moses Ali flagged off the exercise in June 2020 targeting all Ugandans aged six years and above.
According to the ministry of health, the first 750,000 masks was distributed to communities in the border districts of Adjumani, Amuru, Kyotera and Rakai where the risk of importing the disease from neighbouring countries is high.
President Yoweri Museveni revealed that wearing face masks is mandatory as the country eases the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.
“If you want us to overcome the virus, listen to the advice given. Make sure you put on a mask at all times in public and if you have nothing to do in town, stay home,” Museveni said.
The development comes at a time when the Ministry of Health has confirmed 117 new cases from results of COVID-19 tested on 5 October 2020, bringing cumulative confirmed cases to 9,082 and 5,457 recoveries.
In the same vein, 2 new COVID-19 deaths have been recorded from Amuru and Arua, bringing the total deaths to 84.