Importation and manufacture of soap and skin products containing hydroquinone responsible for bleaching will soon be completely banned in East African community- the regional parliament has heard.
The East African Legislative Assembly EALA on Tuesday approved a motion raised seeking to call upon the House to recommend the EAC Council of Ministers to ban the manufacturing and importation of soaps and cosmetics containing hydroquinone in the community.
Hydroquinone and mercury are topical skin-bleaching agents used in the cosmetic treatment of hyper-pigmented skin conditions.
However, the effect of skin lightening caused by these bleaching agents is reversible when exposed to sunlight and therefore requires regular use until desired results are achieved.
At least four in every 10 African women bleach their skin according to statistics from the World Health Organization.
Rwanda has since banned skin products and other soaps containing hydroquinone which scientists have linked to cancer and organ-system toxicity.
These bleaching products can cause liver damage, reduce resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, and increase anxiety, depression and psychosis, according to the World Health Organization.
Early this year, President Paul Kagame pressed for an intensified intervention in cracking down on bleaching products which he said were dangerous to people’s health.
“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!,” Kagame said in a tweet.
Director of Cancer unit in the Ministry of Health, Francois Uwinkindi says Rwanda is also conducting awareness campaigns against the use of such products laced with hydroquinone.
“We are going around and seizing those illegal products, so we are also joining those countries who are also in this fight of the use of those illegal sick lightening cosmetics,” the official said.
Since the ban started Rwandan police has seized more than 5,000 banned bleaching products that include lotions, oils, soaps and sprays — from beauty shops across the country.
The global skin lightening cosmetics market is expected to reach a massive $31.2billion in 2024 this is especially projected for in Asia, the Middle East and Africa.