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Kebs moves to reject masks on quality issues

By Mercy Mwai
Friday, November 27th, 2020
Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) Managing Director Bernard Njiraini. Photo/PD/SAMWEL KARIUKI
In summary
    • Kebs seized various brands and quantities of masks amounting to 37,000 pieces valued at Sh3.7 million known as Wandas because they had failures in the critical parameter of Aerosolized bacterial.
    • Rejected commodities include 70,000 masks from Upfield Kenya in Netherlands, 2210 packages of masks From Hamberg Movers in China and 63,000 pieces of masks from Nokia Solutions.

Kenya risks running short of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) after the country’s standards regulator rejected thousands of surgical masks in the market because they are substandard.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) told parliament yesterday that after testing various samples of masks being produced by local manufacturers, it established that most of them had a 100 per cent failure rate.

Kebs therefore ordered the manufacturers of the PPEs to stop production until they adhere to the requirements.

 According to Kebs, the surveillance it conducted had revealed that all brands of surgical masks they sampled did not comply with their requirements in totality.

 Kebs Managing Director Bernard Njiraini told the senate Committee on health chaired by Trans Nzoia Senator Michael Mbito that the standards body had considered that ordering the withdrawal of all the non conforming brands from the market would mean that there would be no masks in the market.

 “While all the brands of surgical masks sampled did not comply with the requirements of KS 2636:2016 in totality, it is important to note that almost all of them complied with filtration efficiency.

Due to the 100 per cent failure rate of the masks, it is the opinion of Kebs that giving direction for withdrawal of all the non conforming brands from the market would mean that there would be masks in the market,” he said.

 Njiraini explained the decision arose after Kebs conducted tests on 25 brands including 10 local brands and fifteen imported brands had a failure rate of 100 percent.

 For the local manufacturers to be allowed back to the market, they will be required to meet certain requirements that the institution has put in place, said Njiraini.

 The requirements include stopping production of the surgical masks until necessary corrective action is undertaken under their supervision and surveillance visits by the quality Assurance Department to be conducted in all local manufacturers of surgical masks to ensure the respective schemes of supervision and control is adhered to.

Imported brands

 In addition, he said the inspection Department will be required to be on the look out for the imported brands that did not comply and take up the matter with the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) partners to ensure only brands/masks that meet the standard are imported.

 “Kebs requires the masks to comply with the following labeling requirements: - Country of manufacturer; Date of manufacturer and expiry; Manufacturers name and address; Name and type of article; Number of units per package; Batch number quality mark; and Labeling to be done in English.  0 percent of the masks complied with all the labeling requirements,” he added.

 Kebs which had been invited to shed light on the status of the country’s preparedness also revealed it had rejected thousands of Substandard personal protective equipment that were shipped in to the country from China and Netherlands.

 It also announced it has seized various brands and quantities of masks amounting to 37,000 pieces valued at Sh3.7 million known as Wandas because they had failures in the critical parameter of Aerosolized bacterial

Filtration efficiency which indicates the level at which the surgical mask can filter droplets and consequently the corona virus.

 The institution told senators it had rejected commodities include 70,000 masks from Upfield Kenya in Netherlands, 2210 packages of masks from Hamberg Movers in China and 63,000 pieces of masks from Nokia Solutions, Ministry of Health and Tridem Pharma all from China.

 Njiraini said that all imported or locally manufactured PPEs are subjected to thorough quality checks and certification before being allowed into Kenyan Market.

 He said PVoC programme through partnerships with various organisations ensures imported goods including PPEs are inspected, tested and certified at the country of supply to ensure that they meet quality and safety requirements.

According to the institution a total of 395 consignments of masks, 911 consignments of gloves and 20 consignments of coveralls have been imported this year.

“Where goods are subjected to standards and fail to meet the minimum quality and performance requirements, such goods are rejected and re-shipped or destroyed at the owner’s cost,” he said.

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