Face masks’ budget jumps from Shs35b to Shs81b in two weeks as government starts mass distribution

Coronavirus outbreak

The Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has revealed that the government will spend Shs 81 billion to buy and distribute face masks to 30 million Ugandans.

President Museveni passed a directive last month saying that all Ugandans will have to wear masks while in public as the country continues to open up from the lockdown. He added that the government will provide free face masks for every Ugandan above 6 years.

The distribution of the face masks was launched on Wednesday this week, with the First Deputy Prime Minister Gen. Moses Ali flagging off the first consignment of 750,000 face masks which will be distributed in border districts of Adjumani, Amuru, Kyotera, and Rakai Districts.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the launch, Health Minister, Dr. Aceng said that the government spent shs 79 billion on buying the masks while 2 billion will be spent on distributing them across the country.

She said, "The process will cost the government about shs 81 billion. The Shs. 79 billion is the cost of the masks and the 2 billion is the cost of distribution,"

Dr. Aceng revealed each face mask was valued at shs 2,400, adding that the masks being distributed are of good quality.

"The masks are made up of 3 layers; the outer layer is 65% polyester and 35% cotton, the middle layer is made up of chiffon while the innermost layer is made of cotton."

Dr. Aceng, in May this year, while presenting the Ministry of Health's performance report in as far as implementing the NRM Manifesto is concerned had revealed that government had secured and was set to spend shs 35 billion on buying of the masks for 33 million Ugandans.

"The total budget for the masks is shs 35 billion for over 33 million Ugandans because we are excluding those below 6 years and those who have heart problems," Aceng said then.

Dr. Aceng also hinted in May that the government was negotiating to have the unit cost of each mask reduced to at least shs 1, 000 each.

https://nilepost.co.ug/2020/05/27/government-secures-shs-35-billion-to-buy-face-masks/

Nile Post's efforts to get a comment from the Ministry of Health about the changes in cost proved futile as none was available to talk to us at the time of writing this report.

Social Media Reacts

Social media users reacted diversely with some members questioning why the government should be spending this much on face masks that people can purchase on their own.

"When the month was beginning, they said 34 billion so when did it reach 79 billion? Uganda, I give up," Hazel Fidha commented.

Martin Nzangabo: It's so sad. People are starving in their houses without food and this is all government has to offer?

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