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Uganda runs out of sanitizers

Producers of Saraya hand sanitizer say they cannot meet the current demand

Producers of Saraya hand sanitizer say they cannot meet the current demand

The ministry of Health is urging all Ugandans to resort to making home handwashing solutions or using soap and water to wash hands as the country runs out of manufactured hand sanitizers.

The ministry made the call after several pharmacies in Kampala and supermarkets ran out of hand sanitizers due to high demand. In the few shops that still have it, the prices have more than tripled in price as Ugandans rush to procure whatever is left to protect themselves after the worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Although Uganda has not yet recorded a single coronavirus case, her neighbours; Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, DR Congo, Congo Brazaville, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan all have recorded cases. 

Atek Kagirita, the coronavirus incident manager at the ministry of Health says that Ugandans should not be scared due to hand sanitizer shortages because there are other options that are as equally effective.

"In the worst-case scenario maybe if there is no soap, I would tell you use soap and water period. Just put there chlorine. Get 0.05% chlorine and put it there," said Kagirita.  

Researchers recommend the use of a hand sanitizer that contains at least 65 per cent of alcohol to clean hands during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks. It is believed that the disease is spread easily when people are exposed to infected droplets through the fingers. Over 200,000 people have been infected worldwide with over 8,000 deaths. 

According to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, to mix 20 litres of handwashing solution, one needs to add 14 tablespoons of 5 per cent bleaching solution or one tablespoon of calcium hypochlorite grain (chlorine) and wait for about thirty minutes before use.

Peter Matanda, the public relations manager at Saraya Manafacturing Uganda Limited, a local producer of hand sanitizer located in Kakira says that they cannot produce enough hand sanitizers to meet the current demand in the country.
"As Saraya, we have been producing but we had the production for normal supply. Now everybody who is asking for a sanitizer has never done so before. Given the capacity we had, we have tried to triple efforts. We are working day and night at our production unit and we can’t meet even a quarter of orders. Some of the orders we try to turn them down because the production capacity cannot meet the current orders." Matanda said. 

Last year during the Ebola virus disease outbreak in neighbouring DR Congo, a one litre bottle of Saraya cost between Shs 30,000 and Shs 40,000. Currently, the same quantity if found goes for as high as Shs 160,000.  

Pharmaceutical shops that URN visited are also crying foul because they do not have enough supply to meet the current demand. Swarna Garikapati, the branch manager of Abacus pharmacy on Johnstone street says that they are out of stock of the sanitizers since Friday last week and they haven’t stocked yet because of lack of supplies. 

Garikapati says that Abacus pharmacy does not produce sanitizers at their factory in Nakawa, they also import either from Kenya or India and the cost is high therefore they are trying to sell them at a price that’s affordable to Ugandans.
She says that before the stock-out, a litre of sanatizer was between Shs 28,000 and Shs 30,000 and could not sell wholesale because they needed to supply everyone and could not take a chance of making a profit in such a situation.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, the world is facing a Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) shortage due to many manufacturing countries like China stopping the exportation of equipment like gloves, goggles and facial masks.
Dr Michael Ryan, the executive director of the WHO health emergencies program says that the health agency is working towards availing necessary equipment to all countries in need. They are also talking to China to open its doors and allow the exportation of necessary equipment.


+2 #1 WADADA rogers 2020-03-19 10:10
The Uganda that i know, fake sanitizers must be on the market already
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0 #2 MR 2020-03-20 20:07
This is a good time for the Gov't to support local manufacturers of natural soaps and other products.

No more excesses to relay on foreign products
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