The most expensive sanitiser in the country as of yesterday cost Shs160,000 for a one-litre container up from Shs30,000 following the outbreak of the coronavirus in the country.
As of yesterday, Uganda had nine confirmed cases of coronavirus.
A number of companies have started manufacturing sanitisers after the Ministry of Health recommended washing hands using soap and sanitising as some of the measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
A survey conducted by Daily Monitor in different pharmacies and drug shops around town found about 20 new brands of sanitisers on the market.
The sanitiser manufactured by Saraya company is the most expensive on the market.
Despite the company yesterday insisting that they have not hiked the factory prices, some pharmacies were charging between Shs60,000 and Shs160,000 per litre for the sanitiser and many people were seen purchasing it without question.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the same litre of sanitiser cost Shs30,000, a five-litre container went for about Shs120,000 and a 20-litre one cost about Shs400,000.
However, other sanitiser brands were sold at relatively low prices of between Shs10,000 and Shs60,000 for the 60ml and one litre bottles.
Some of the sanitiser brands on the market are Save Hands, Arrows, Shafrant, Handie, Clen, Instant Bactree, Skin guard and Movit. Others are Myrrh, Ever Fresh, Jireh, Eli Fresh and Pure Advance.
Mr Aslam Arfedh, the manager of Zufi Pharmacy Africa Limited, said Saraya is the most purchased sanitiser since many Ugandans trust its effectiveness.
“Many people are buying this brand because they trust it. It has been there even before coronavirus was confirmed. Even if it is expensive, people are buying it in bulk,” Mr Arfedh said.
Mr Daniel Ntende, a dispensing chemist at Lwadda Pharmacy, said it is very difficult to regulate the prices since suppliers are selling the sanitisers to them at different prices.
He urged government to manufacture its own sanitiser if it wants to regulate the prices.
“As you can see, we have run out of some sanitisers, especially Saraya, which is the most consumed brand. People are not minding about the prices because they have been told to keep their hands clean,” Mr Ntende said.
Some of the sanitiser brands on the market are not certified by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (Unbs) but the pharmacists said they cannot distinguish the fake ones from the genuine ones.
“We cannot also tell which sanitisers are genuine and which ones are fake. This is the role of Unbs,” Mr Ntende added.
Dr Ben Manyindo, the executive director of Unbs, told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview that they are only aware of only seven approved brands of sanitisers on the market.
“As of Friday last week, our field team established that there are only seven brands on the market that are genuine. Two are locally made and five are from the international markets. I am not aware about the many brands that have flooded the market that you are talking about,” he said.
Mr Manyindo did not provide the names of the genuine brands but advised Ugandans to buy sanitisers with the Unbs quality mark.
However, the president of Uganda Medical Association, Dr Richard Idro, said Ugandans are free to buy any sanitiser as long as it has more than 60 per cent alcohol content.
“We are recommending any sanitiser as long as it has a minimum of 60 per cent alcohol content in it. Anything with less than that is not effective because it cannot kill the germs,” Dr Idro said.
Nevertheless, he warned the public against fake sanitisers, advising that to be on a safer side, one should wash hands for 20 seconds using clean water and soap.
President Museveni yesterday also criticised those hiking the prices of sanitisers. He advised Ugandans to rather use soap and clean water to wash their hands.
“There are crooks who are hiking the prices of sanitisers. But I want to tell you that you do not need the sanitiser. The soap can kill the virus if you wash your hands very well. Traders should not hold us hostage by hiking the prices,” the President said in his address.