Distribution of unsafe condoms stir rile in Zambia

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Revelations of a Zambia government agency distributing condoms and gloves to the public that did not meet the required standards has stirred consternation among citizens.

The Medical Stores Limited revealed that tests done on the condoms, gloves and other essential drugs which were distributed last year revealed that they did not meet the required standards.

Speaking when he appeared before a parliamentary Public Accounts Committee, Chikuta Mbewe, the agency’s managing director confessed that the condoms and gloves which were distributed were not safe for public use.

According to him, the health ministry authorized the distribution of the health kits which did not meet the required standards.

The unsafe condoms were distributed by a local company, HoneyBee Pharmacy, in a 17 million U.S. dollars contract.

But the revelation has angered people who feel that the negligence has put the lives of many people who used the condoms at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.

Quince Mwabu, Director-General of the Medical for Quality Healthcare Zambia (MQHZ) said the revelation makes sad reading and has exposed the incompetence of the agency that distributes drugs.

He told Xinhua in an interview that the distribution of unsafe condoms and gloves has exposed not only ordinary people but also health workers to various infections.

“We don’t know how many health workers have been exposed to infections; we don’t know how many people have been exposed to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases for using substandard condoms. As MQHZ, we are very disappointed with the Ministry of Health,” he said.

According to him, it was the negligence of the highest order to go ahead and distribute the substandard condoms and other essential drugs even when tests showed they did not meet the required standards.

The officials behind the distribution of the substandard health kits should not only be suspended but fired in order to pave way for investigations, he added.

Mwaba Kasese-Botha, a medical doctor and Zambia’s former Ambassador to the United Nations said she was disgusted with the revelations which were a strain on the country’s efforts towards fighting HIV/AIDS.

“They cannot be distributing condoms that have not passed standard procedural tests to the population of Zambia. I have spent my whole entire life working with all the health people in the health ministry fighting HIV,” local media quoted her as saying.

“And then we have my country distributing condoms that have not passed quality standards. We are grappling with COVID-19 and then we risk our people,” she added.

Renowned medical doctor Dr. Aaron Mujajati advised all people who may have used the unsafe condoms to go for Voluntary Counseling and Testing to ensure that they did not contract HIV.

Zambians have since taken to social media to express their anger over the revelations. Nzenga Muchindu has described the revelation as a scandal and called on the law to its course on the culprits. Enditem

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