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COVID-19: Pharmacists Emphasise Use of Water, Soap

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Dr. Samuel Opio, the Secretary, Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda, says the sale of substandard hand sanitisers will impact negatively on the country’s preventive methods against the corona virus pandemic, saying there is need for government to do something to address the situation.
One of uncertified hand sanitiser products on the market

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The Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda has advised Ugandans to rely on time tested infection prevention methods of hand washing with water and soap other than depending on hand sanitisers, many of which are not certified.   

According to pharmacists, for a hand sanitiser to be effective in preventing infection, it should have at least 50 percent alcohol. In the wake of COVID-19, the Health Ministry recommended using a hand rub containing at least 70 percent alcohol content. 

This came after random tests conducted by the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda on hand sanitisers, which revealed that some brands on the Ugandan market have less than 50 percent alcohol content. This according to experts isn’t efficient to provide protection from infections.  

Whereas some of the hand sanitisers indicate that they contain 90 percent alcohol content, they are not certified by Uganda National Bureau of Standards-UNBS for general use.  One of such brands without a UNBS Quality mark is LAV’s sanitiser whose maker Arnold Ochom told Uganda Radio Network that he has so far supplied over 3000 bottles on the market. 

Ochom acknowledged that his product is yet to get approval from UNBS, which he blames on bureaucracy. Such products, the Pharmaceutical Society says shouldn’t be relied on. 

Dr. Samuel Opio, the Secretary, Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda, says the sale of substandard hand sanitisers will impact negatively on the country’s preventive methods against the corona virus pandemic, saying there is need for government to do something to address the situation.  

 

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Dr. Opio says manufacturers of the fake products are supplying them to unsuspecting pharmacies and wholesaler in Kikuubo, Kampala’s business hub.           

According to Dr. Opio, genuine hand sanitiser brands should provide key information to users.                                                                               

                                                                                        

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Opio advises that for the next one month until ethanol producers in the country, can provide genuine products, people need to stick to soap and water.

“Government is talking to some people to produce sanitisers but it might be a month until we see some of their products on the market. As we wait, people who use sanitisers shouldn’t abandon soap and water. Do not touch your face until you have water and soap to wash your hands,” Dr. Opio said.       

Similarly, Atek Kagirita, the COVID-19 Incident Manager in the Ministry of Health, says soap and water is a better option than using fake hand sanitisers.  “We have received many reports that many of the products on the market are fake. We recommend using a hand rub that has at least 70 percent alcohol content. But some products on the market do not even have 25 percent alcohol content.  This is dangerous,” he said.   

Uganda has so far confirmed 9 COVID-19 cases. Kagirita says that with the confirmation of cases, people should avoid using unknown hand sanitiser brands to avoid exposure and contamination.