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Minister Moriku questioned over low supply of masks

By Mary Karugaba

Added 7th October 2020 06:11 PM

According, to information from the Ministry of Health, only 71 districts have so far received face masks totaling to 20,952,447 masks out of planned 33 million masks.

Minister Moriku questioned over low supply of masks

Minister of State for Primary Healthcare, Dr Joyce Moriku. Photo by Miriam Namutebi

According, to information from the Ministry of Health, only 71 districts have so far received face masks totaling to 20,952,447 masks out of planned 33 million masks.

HEALTH | PARLIAMENT

Minister of State for Primary Healthcare, Dr Joyce Moriku, was Tuesday (October 6, 2020) tasked to explain the nationwide distribution of face masks.

According, to information from the Ministry of Health, only 71 districts have so far received face masks totaling to 20,952,447 masks out of planned 33 million masks.

While accounting for the sh89b that was given to the Ministry of health, by government to procure masks, the Ministry's PS, Dr. Diana Atwine, explained that out of the 146 districts, the ministry has been able to supply face masks to 71 districts.

She said the Ministry is still faced with challenges of financing. She said out of the planned sh51b for masks, only sh33b has been provided and the ministry is yet to pay for some of the procured masks.

"The problem has been financing.  Out of sh89b Parliament approved, we received only sh70b only of which sh33b was for masks, tests kits, salaries for workers, allowances, transport for patients, renovation of Nambole stadium, allowance among others. The money was not adequate," she said.

She said given the demands, even the balance of the funds, which Finance has promised to provide, it will not be possible to provide all the districts with masks.

"We will need more money. Which means, I will have to come back," she said.

The MPs wondered whether COVID-19 disease will also be waiting for the Ministry to receive money.

"Will the disease also be waiting for you?" MP Charles Ilukor asked.

During the House sitting, Moriku was asked to explain the slow distribution.

She attributed the problem to low mass production capacity of local manufacturers.

"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 the mass production.

The ministry has also supplied about half a million masks through a mosquito net distribution exercise and another one million masks through the 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 lockdown 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.

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