Challenges in facemasks use and potential solutions: The case study of Kenya

F. M. Mwema*, J. M. Nyika

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


The emergence of the novel Coronavirus has forced most governments across the world to enact stringent public laws to curb its transmission among the populations. The requirement to wear a facemask whenever in public places is one of such laws. As such, the demand for such masks has escalated across the world and this predisposition has presented a manufacturing challenge to the developing countries, which have limited capacity to meet the demand for their large populations. In developing countries such as Kenya, the citizens are now required to wear facemasks when in public places such as markets, streets, shopping malls, etc. With limited supply of the proper facemasks in the developing countries, the public is left to improvise them from the available resources. Alternatively, they purchase substandard facemasks from uncertified suppliers and sellers. The purchased masks do not meet the required health standards in most cases. In Kenya, for example, the government has been discouraging citizens from using N95 respirators and instead preserve them for medical practitioners due to their rarity and incapacity to manufacture them. The government has certified several textile industries to produce facemasks for the public from non-woven fabric materials. The challenge with such a move is that there has been an influx of an assortment of facemasks in the Kenyan market and it is not possible for the citizens to identify the safe ones. In this short communication, a brief description of the challenges facing the citizens in terms of access to and quality of face masks in developing countries, with a case study of Kenya is provided. Furthermore, a proposed design solution and a proof of concept of a low-cost and reusable 3D printed facemask for developing economies is herein presented. The adoption of such a design by the governments and manufacturers would solve the challenges of access and quality of the respirators to lower the transmissions of the Coronavirus.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00563
Number of pages7
JournalScientific African
Early online date24 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes

Cite this