As the world is into conflict with the deadly outbreak ‘COVID-19’, many African countries are seeking various solutions to curb the spread of the pandemic. Rwandans have also started to manufacture face masks but a question is how safe they are for users.

Some citizens who use face masks said have experienced other health effects such as oral diseases due to the fact that the masks were sold with dust.
Kalinda, not his real name as the matter of his security, told Express News that he bought his face mask from the market and the way it was packed could not ensure safety.

He said that he could not trust its safety as he found them in other various goods being sold at the market .
“Some tailors can make them with dust; I cannot fully trust the safety of face masks. I cannot now affirm that my respiration problem is due to the use of a face mask, it can be the work of medic doctors and I did not have and checkup. But what I can say is that the consequences can also arise later as they can develop slowly,” he said.
He advises users to be careful about where they buy them. With much hesitation, Kalinda guesses the respiration problems he experienced after wearing the face mask could have a relationship with the way it was packed.

Saidi Hitimana, the Managing Director of UFACO & VLISCO NL LTD, a local clothes and face masks manufacturer said that the safety of face masks is trusted as they respect the guidelines for production. “we respect the standards guidelines from the beginning up to the final product. We are still in manufacturing process and no face mask is on the market now. Regulators will first establish a storing center that will be controlled to ensure safety in use. There was an inspection done yesterday in every industry manufacturing face masks and for safety, we make sure that everyone who is packing has clean fingers with no virus until the masks reach the users. We make sure that tailors who bind the tissues have also safety,” Hitimana said.
He advised face masks sellers and users to make sure they buy from authorized manufacturers before selling or wearing.

The supply chain

During a discussion with a public broadcast RTV, Dr. Charles KARANGWA Director General of Rwandan Food and Drugs Authority said that there is a warehouse in UTEXRWA that facilitates to control the safety of face masks produced.
“They first iron them and pack them in a proper and safe manner to reach users. There is one safe ware house in Kigali for manufacturers to ensure safety of face masks when they are in stores without humidity, etc. We suggested that their supply chain can involve experts, from the pharmacies to the supermarkets, and health centers. This work will be done by sub-dealers and will respect the supply chains and we will follow on this to ensure that they do not cause and health effect to the end user.”

He said that the cotton that makes a face masks protects the user at 50 percent. It is meant to be used within six hours and changed or washed and ironed. When someone cannot find an iron, he/she is advised to wash it in 60 degree hot water.

Raymond Murenzi, Director General of Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) explained their role.
“In our mandate, RSB has three principles regarding manufacturing of face masks: Setting voluntary standards to be respected, these ones were set, we also do testing of face masks to ensure that the guidelines set by Rwanda FDA which is the regulator are respected.” Murenzi said.

“Our role is to set basic standards, testing and issuing certification marks. This help to ensure safety in case there is a need of export. So, local face mask manufacturers will be given S-Mark certificate to ensure compliance to sternward within the east African region.” He added.

He said that the standards in regard with manufacturing of face masks were already published at RSB website and training materials are being prepared to help the industries abide with the standards.
He calls up on investors in this business to open eyes and produce enough and safe face masks in order to help the country and citizens to fight against COVID-19.

The Express News

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