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 totaling 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.
The Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, asked the minister to respond to why residents in Packwach district had not received their masks and also elaborate on the criteria used to select the local tailoring groups that are being engaged to supplement the government.
Moriku said Packwach received masks a week ago and that the ministry’s focus had now shifted to distributing masks to students in candidate classes. They are expected to commence classes on October 15 2020.
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.