Ethiopia’s Pharmaceutical Fund and Supply Agency (PFSA) has announced its intention to destroy 69 million poor-quality condoms valued at about $2 million.
Mesekele Lera, the director of the PFSA, announced the move while speaking on a local radio station in Ethiopia. PFSA says the latex condoms failed various standard tests for strength, thickness, length, and the required amount of lubricant present in the packaging.
The regulatory agency conducted random tests on another 60 batches of the condoms, and found holes in many of them when tested under conditions simulating a likely effect of friction or pressure.
The condoms were provided with funding from the international donor organisation Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. Ethiopia has one of the lowest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in Africa – an estimated 2.4 percent or 1.2 million Ethiopians are infected with the virus.
Condoms are a critical tool in the global fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. They also serve as a readily available, cheap, and easy-to-use contraceptive option for millions of people in Africa.
The defective condoms were manufactured by a yet-to-be-named Indian company; reportedly, PFSA has taken steps to seek redress and has filed a complaint requesting the supplier be blacklisted. Lera says the agency has instituted proceedings to force the supplier to “reimburse the money and cover all the costs in the discarding process.”
Ethiopian authorities are now faced with the challenge of how to properly dispose of 69 million substandard condoms. The disposal of used or unused latex condoms poses a considerable environmental challenge as there is no real way around dumping them into a landfill. Incineration is also not an ideal option. Some technology currently being developed promises a future of recyclable condoms but none of that is available yet.