JUBA-South Sudan's Drugs and Food Control Authority (DFCA) has banned importation and sale of all skin lightening products to protect the people from harmful chemicals used in manufacturing skin bleaching cosmetics.

Mawien Atem Mawien, secretary general of DFCA, said the ban seeks to protect the people of South Sudan from being exposed to harmful chemicals used in manufacturing skin bleaching cosmetics.

"All the whitening or bleaching creams are prohibited for import without any approval from DFCA, of particular interest are those containing mercury and hydroquinone," Mawien said.

The regulatory body ordered all cosmetic dealers in the country to obtain new import licenses in an effort to regulate their business.

"It is very clear that cosmetics are being used in South Sudan without any discrimination despite the fact that they contain so many chemicals," Mawien said.

"No cosmetics will be brought to the Republic of South Sudan without the approval of DFCA. Anything outside the right channeled will be deemed illegal," he added.

Skin lightening or whitening is common in South Sudan especially among the youth. It however remains unclear whether the ban will be effective as several other bans on polythene bags and export of charcoal have so far failed to materialize.

South Sudan 's ban follows similar moves by Rwanda, South Africa, Kenya and Ghana, where the importing of such products is prohibited.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), skin bleaching using soaps or creams containing chemicals such as mercury can cause diverse health effects on the human body.