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Gov’t: Face Masks Will Be Manufactured By 28 Companies

President Yoweri Museveni Monday night revealed that government will first distribute ‘free’ face masks to Ugandans above the age of 6 before lifting the COVID-19 lockdown.

The President also revealed that masks will be manufactured by  Nyanza Textitle Industries (NYTIL), a thing that was questioned by several Ugandans including Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) strongman, Dr. Col (retired) Kizza Besigye.

In Parliament, Bujumbura County MP,  Fred Turyamuhweza asked government to explain how NYTIL was picked to manufacture facemasks and wondered why government did not set standards to allow other companies to produce them.

In response, Minister of State for Primary Health ,Joyce Moriku said government has lined up  up 28 companies to assist in manufacturing  face masks that will be distributed to Ugandans.

Moriku said government plans to follow the normal procedure used in procuring all public goods and says that this morning they have started discussions with 28 eligible companies to manufacture these face masks.

However, some MPs noted that this is going to leave out a number of Ugandans who have already been making these masks while others demanded to know whether face masks from pharmacies could also be qualified as quality masks so that people can use them to start performing their duties.

The Minister told lawmakers that she shall give a comprehensive statement tomorrow after the presidential address tonight which the speaker accepted.

Earlier, Besigye had said if Ugandan Scientists have recommended specifications for such masks, they should be published, so that, whoever wants can produce them.

“The USA Health Protection Agency, CDC, has guidelines on how various materials can be used to make non-medical face masks at home. Below are some of the guidelines on how to make them. So, why would a Highly Indebted Country Poor Country (HIPC), like Uganda, insist on making and issuing every citizen a face mask? Moreover, decree that everyone stays at home until you issue them with the “Government” mask!” Besigye said.

He added: “Government can give mask specifications (if they have any) and then supply those who can’t get masks for themselves. Even for the “Government” supplied masks, the PPDA Procedures should be followed to give all Ugandans an equal opportunity to supply the masks.

It seems a dubious deal is already made with Nytil (Southern Range Nyanza), Jinja to “produce” and supply the masks. I’ll say more about this separately. Forcing “Government” masks on all is unacceptable and illegal. It could even give credence for the security threats that have been circulating about giving out of poisoned masks.”

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