Ghana seizes a million faulty Chinese condoms

More than a million contraceptives made in Henan found to contain holes and burst easily

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 April, 2013, 2:59am


Ghana is facing a "major public health issue" after condoms made in China and supplied to the west African country's health service were found to contain holes and burst easily.

More than one million "Be Safe" condoms have been impounded by the country's food and drugs authority (FDA), which said they were also too small and not adequately lubricated.

The FDA said the faulty consignment was imported by Global Unilink, a Ghanaian company, which had sourced them from an Indian company named Harley, based in Kenya.

Thomas Amedzro, head of drug enforcement at the FDA, said it has traced the condoms back to the original manufacturer, Henan Xibei Latex Company, in Henan province.

"When we tested these condoms, we found that they are poor quality, can burst in the course of sexual activity, and have holes which expose the users to unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease," said Amedzro.

But the FDA said it was investigating how an unknown number of condoms had been distributed to health centres around the country, before the tests were conducted. "We want to get to the bottom of this, and to find out why all the condoms were not presented to us before they went out," said Amedzro.

The FDA is recalling all Be Safe condoms on the market, and said it does not yet know how many have already been distributed. It is standard practice to conduct safety tests on condoms, many of which are imported from China.

"This is a huge, huge problem," said Faustina Fynn-Nyame, director of Marie Stopes International in Ghana. "There will be a lot of unintended pregnancies as a result of this, and that means maternal mortality and unsafe abortion. Commercial sex workers also use these products [so] the consequences could be enormous."

Be Safe condoms are reported to be widely used in Ghana, where they are distributed by state-run health centres. Previous batches are understood to have passed safety tests.

This is not the first scare surrounding condoms in sub-Saharan Africa. Last year, South Africa recalled more than one million faulty ANC condoms, which the ruling party had given away.

"This is a major public health issue because of the implications," said Amedzro.

"People use condoms to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy. If the condoms are not doing that, we could have increased [risk] of HIV and Aids, so that is a major concern."

Last week, the Ghana Aids Commission had called on the Food and Drugs Authority to arrest a company involved in importing 113 million fake condoms into the country.

Speaking to Radio Ghana, the Policy Director at the Commission Dr Joseph Amusu said the Commission has over the years embarked on massive national campaign for people to use condoms, but it is likely that it may backfire with the seizure of fake condoms. The report did not identify the company or the country from where the fake condoms were exported.