Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Health workers could be using wrong masks mistaking them for surgical masks that are required in hospital or infectious settings after the National Drug Authority (NDA) found a shortfall in their labeling.
Brenda Kitimbo, the Principal Regulatory Officer at NDA says that although medical workers are supposed to use N95 masks that are categorized as type 2R in NDA lab analysis, many were found using type 1. She said that health workers need to be educated on what masks are required under hospital settings.
Speaking during a meeting held this morning to discuss pharmaceutical and health commodities availability and quality assurance in the era of COVID-19, Kitimbo emphasized that they recommend only N95 and surgical respirators for health workers.
An N95 respirator mask protects the user from exposure to airborne particles. Research indicates that this type filters out 95 percent of particles when properly worn and while in the health-care setting, it protects from exposure to biological aerosols including viruses and bacteria.
Meanwhile, Kitimbo noted that while there has previously been only one approved manufacturer of masks, the number has now risen to four whereby to approve each for use by the public they need to check for their efficacy especially their ability to keep bacteria at bay.
However, even as NDA is recommending exclusive use of N95 masks in hospital settings, none of the four manufacturers currently approved in the country are producing these type 2. Also when it comes to testing them, a source at NDA reveals they don’t have equipment that can do that although they have been outsourcing using a company in South Africa.
Kitimbo noted that while some three makers of reusable masks have approached them for approvals, NDA is not testing or approving reusable masks even though they are currently being popularized and used widely. She explains that this is because their cleanliness cannot be guaranteed.