Kagame calls on quick measures against skin bleaching chemicals

On 26 November 2018 at 06:00

President Paul Kagame has urged the Ministry of Health and Rwanda National Police to take urgent measures against chemicals used in skin bleaching which are unhealthy.

Kagame was replying to tweets of different people who asked for a ban on chemicals used in skin bleaching on Rwandan market.

One Fiona Kamikazi tweeted: “I think Rwanda Standards Bureau and the Ministry of Health should start a campaign against skin bleaching, a BIG one because this is getting out of hand.”

In another tweet, one Maurice Kayisire said: “A man told his wife ‘you should ask other women the lotion they use on their skins. Bleaching is a societal problem, not a problem for women alone.”

Following the viral tweets, retweets and replies on Sunday evening, Kagame, using his personal Twitter account, tweeted: “Quite unhealthy among other things. Includes use of prohibited chemicals. MoH [Ministry of Health and RNP [Rwanda National Police] need to reign this in very quickly...!”

Rwanda Standards Bureau stated that campaigns against bleaching have been carried out but the problem keeps increasing which makes the intensified measures against bleaching a necessity for people to change mindsets.

Many think lotions with hydroquinone are the only ones designed to bleach skin, but there are many other substances which are not shown on the list of ingredients which are more harmful than hydroquinone according to dermatologists.

Hydroquinone was banned on the Rwandan market but it is still available according to sources who talked to IGIHE.

Dermatologists say three-quarters of lightening lotions can harm the health of the skin except lightening hyper hydro acid lotions, which are extracted from fruits like Bioderma and others.

The Director of Quality Assurance Unit at Rwanda Standards Bureau (RSB), Mr Philippe Nzaire once told IGIHE that a number of measures had been taken to fight against skin bleaching lotions imported to Rwandan market.

He said: “We have to start by fighting them (skin bleaching products) at border areas. We also plan to check marketplaces where they are illicitly sold and take them from sellers for buyers’ interest.”

Recently, in the Interpol operation conducted against illegal and substandard products in Kigali City suburbs, lotions with skin bleaching chemicals were also seized.

Both users and sellers of skin bleaching lotions do not understand why these lotions were banned in Rwanda.

In an interview with IGIHE, Aline Mukamana said: “When somebody has once used it [skin bleaching lotion] and he/she lacks it, then his/her body is destroyed because that has been used to it and requires to use it every day.”

Legitimate lotion products in Rwanda have to have less than 0.07% of hydroquinone. However, on the market, lotion with 2% of hydroquinone chemicals is available at different markets in Rwanda.