The ministries of Health and Population and Industry, Trade and Tourism have suspended temporarily exportation of medical products especially face masks.
In a statement released on Friday, Secretary for Health Dan Namarika and his counterpart for Industry, Trade and Tourism Ken Ndala said the move was meant to control the availability of medical products that would be in demand locally amid outbreaks such as coronavirus which is global.
“[The] government has observed that some traders are re-exporting some medical products to same countries that Malawi imported from. The suspension has, therefore, been effected in order to ensure that there is adequate supplies of medical products. The measure will also save the much needed foreign exchange,” the statement reads.
Namarika and Ndala also said the global demand on some medical supplies such as face masks has increased; hence, the suspension will be lifted once global, supply improves.
The Ministry’s spokesperson, Joshua Malango, said globally, the production of medical drugs has declined amid outbreak of corona virus in China.
“There are great demands globally; each country is trying to get prepared in case of any outbreak. So as a country what we are saying is we have suspended the exportation so that we should have what we have already in the country in case of any outbreak whether it is cholera,” he said.
Malawi Health Equity Network Executive Director, George Jobe, said the suspension was timely.
“We heard last week that some people wanted to export face masks without the government’s approval. It is the right time now whereby we should have enough supplies and necessities that can protect Malawians in case of any outbreak,” he said.
Currently, coronavirus has claimed lives of over 1,500 people in mainland China while over 67, 000 cases have been confirmed.
Egypt has recorded a case, the only African country to have been affected with the virus so far.