The Rwandan government has directed officials across the country to enforce its ban on skin lightening and bleaching products.
The East African country is leading a campaign against skin bleaching and substandard cosmetics, particularly products that include hydroquinone.
“It is been implemented by the Ministry of Health and the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority and the Rwanda Standards Board,” said Simeon Kwizera, the public relations and communications officer for the board. Operations are being conducted by technical people. The police is there to oversee only and make sure that all operations are being conducted in a safe way”.
Rwanda’s ban follows similar crackdowns in South Africa, Kenya and Ghana, where the importation of such products is prohibited.
Bleaching creams and soaps, whose sales in Africa are worth billions every year, were banned in the landlocked East African country in November 2018.
However, the move has raised fears that consumers will be forced to buy unregulated products, which could put their health at risk.
It is understood that President Paul Kagame instigated the crackdown when he condemned the use of the products in November, urging Rwanda’s ministry of health to take action.
Government officials and police are now patrolling markets in the capital, Kigali, and in provinces across the central African nation, seizing skin-lightening and bleaching products from vendors.