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‘Safety First’ – UMA cautions Manufacturers

Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA) and Ministry of health have called upon all manufacturers to establish strict protocols against the spread of COVID-19 at their factories in Uganda.

This call was made during a site visit to factories to assess their work place health and safety standards in regards to Covid -19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). According the UMA executive Director, Mr. Daniel Birungi, the site visits to factories is an initiative aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19. “As UMA, we have started working with Ministry of Health having recognized that it is our role as a body that brings together manufacturers to assess their readiness to manage Covid-19.” Birungi said.

While conducting a joint inspection of UMA member factories to benchmark COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), the UMA and MoH team said factories would soon be given certification based on their compliance with regard to COVID-19 SOPs.

“Covid-19 infection is at community level which means that any time, there will always be a factory employee who gets infected, that being the case we want to ensure that each factory has the right protocols in place to ensure that if this happens, they are able to manage the case properly and mitigate any cases of it infecting others” he added.

Dr. Aggrey Batesaaki, the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Inspection, Standards and Compliance in Ministry of Health pointed out that some gaps were identified during the site visit. “Their environment is not talking Covid-19 for example there were not many posters and I have told them to put them in place so that anybody walking into the factory can be reminded about the SOPs” he said.

While addressing fears of closing companies, Dr. Aggrey Batesaaki, noted that Closing off a company because of a confirmed Covid-19 case does not stop the spread of the virus. “Once a company registers a case, Ministry of health is available to work with companies to weigh the options of curbing further spread of the virus within the premises without a total shut down” he added.

“Government is passionate about moving our economy forward, and the ministry is not happy to close the economy considering the vital role manufacturing plays in keeping our economy moving in such unprecedented times. Currently the ministry is in a process developing Consolidated Standard Operating Procedure for manufacturing, upon which certification would be given to compliant companies,” he revealed.

Prior to these visits, manufactures held a virtual meeting in which they agreed to set up a Covid-19 taskforce for manufacturers which will draft SOPs to guide the Ministry of Health as it sets these guidelines for manufacturing firms.

Among the companies singled out for benchmarking based on their existing COVID-19 SOPs, were Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Uganda, CIPLA Quality Chemicals, and Steel & Tube Industries.

During the tour to Coca-Cola Beverages Africa, in Uganda (CCBA), the team was received by Derrick Mugweri, the Manufacturing Manager, at the plant in Namanve.

In his opening remarks, Daniel, applauded Coca-Cola for its cooperation and support rendered to the sector whenever there is need.

“We thank Coca-Cola for the opportunity to visit one of their factories to pick learning on how Covid-19 preventive measures are implemented to keep factories open despite covid-19 pandemic,” he lauded.

Mr. Mugweri, revealed that CCBA has invested resources towards making the SOPs work and has continued to adjust with the evolving situation as the days go by. Innovation and agility is what has kept the company afloat in these unprecedented times.

“We welcome you all to the Coca-Cola site to observe the Covid-19 preventive protocols that you have observed and we are open to feedback for the good observations and areas of improvement noted”. Said Mugweri.

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