The Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda has advised Ugandans to rely on time tested infection prevention methods of handwashing with water and soap other than depending on hand sanitizers, many of which are not certified.
According to pharmacists, for a hand sanitizer 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 sanitizers, 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 sanitizers indicate that they contain 90 percent alcohol content, they are not certified by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards-UNBS for general use. One such brand without a UNBS Quality mark is LAV’s sanitizer whose maker Arnold Ochom told Uganda Radio Network that he has so far supplied over 3000 bottles on the market.
He 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 sanitizers will impact negatively the country’s preventive methods against the coronavirus pandemic, saying there is a need for government to do something to address the situation.
Dr. Opio says manufacturers of the fake products are supplying them to unsuspecting pharmacies and wholesalers in Kikuubo, Kampala’s business hub.
According to Dr. Opio, genuine hand sanitizer brands should provide key information to users.
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 sanitizers but it might be a month until we see some of their products on the market. As we wait, people who use sanitizers 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 COVID19 Incident Manager in the Health Ministry, says soap and water is a better option than using fake hand sanitizers. “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 COVID19 cases. Kagirita says that with the confirmation of cases, people should avoid using unknown hand sanitizer brands to avoid exposure and contamination.