The government will only be able to produce 11.2 million face masks over the next two weeks. This is in line with a decision by the government to distribute free face masks to the general public as a precondition for lifting restrictions on the lockdown which has been in force since March.
State Minister for Primary Healthcare Joyce Moriku said that the available capacity of producing masks on a daily basis assured by Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) is 800,000 masks per day.
Moriku said that with this assured, only 11.2 million face masks will be produced in two weeks. Uganda’s population is currently at 44 million people.
The Minister’s statement followed queries by Parliament on how a decision for Nytil to be the only supplier of masks across the country was reached.
She said that her ministry has given guidelines on the standard of the facemask to be used and that in the interim, they encourage those who can make as per the standard guidelines or procure privately to do so.
She assured Parliament that the government was following formal procedures for the award of contracts to all manufacturing companies that can produce the required face masks. These also include small scale producers under Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) and other local governments.
However, the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, raised concern on the cost of masks on the market and tasked the Ministry of Health to explain to the nation where the government will acquire the funds to procure and supply masks to all Ugandans.
“The Ministers here in Parliament haven’t understood that the worry of Ugandans is that resumption of public transport has been made contingent upon acquiring masks and that masks are to be manufactured by Nytil, and until everybody has those masks there will be no public transport,” Kadaga said.
Koboko MP James Baba questioned the Minister’s statement saying that it does not provide a clear indication of how the 42 million masks will be availed to all Ugandans in only two weeks.
Kawempe North MP Latif Ssebaggala demanded to know the number of face masks that the government is planning to give each person especially the students who are set to resume school.
Amuria Woman MP Susan Amero sought clarification on the quality of the masks that will be produced and whether the producers can deliver them.
In response, Minister Moriku said that the masks being produced are a double layer cloth mask with a filter and that they can effectively protect Ugandans from the virus.