Government has halted the distribution of condoms and recalled those that were already distributed by another company not meeting required quality standards.
This came after, in August, the department recalled and quarantined condoms manufactured by Zalatex, a company alleged to have bribed a South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) official to approve inferior quality condoms.
Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang told reporters Monday that following further investigations after the scandal broke in August, the department was recalling products supplied by Kohrs Medical.
The SABS had recommended that the department quarantine the most recent batches of condoms supplied by at least three of the seven companies responsible for the tender for retesting.
“This was intended to verify the quality of these condoms and inform the final conclusions of the audit process,” explained Dr Tshabalala-Msimang.
She appealed for the public’s cooperation to help identify and remove the defective condoms, which are identifiable by the manufacturers’ code 6809/MED/, before they put people’s lives at risk.
The minister explained that the findings of the audit process showed that at least five batches belonging to Kohrs were sampled and they failed an airburst test.
“The SABS has reported that based on the results, it was suspending Kohrs’ use of the SABS mark or certificate until remedial action is taken by the company to rectify the quality issues,” she said.
The minister and the Corporate Services Executive at the SABS Mike McNerney however emphasised that there was currently no evidence of any collusion between Kohrs and the SABS official charged with corruption in the Zalatex matter.
The department, she said had also noted that a large stock of condoms that was found dumped in Inanda, in KwaZulu-Natal recently, were produced by Kohrs and that the matter was under police investigation.
She explained that the company had supplied five million condoms this financial year, a million of which has been quarantined at the distribution sites.
The department is currently working to determine how many of the remaining four million condoms were in the public’s hands.
Dr Tshabalala-Msimang said the SABS had implemented extensive controls and verifications throughout the verification process to ensure that all condoms distributed under the SABS mark and the Choice brand complied with standards set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Condoms are a crucial element of the department’s programme to prevent sexually transmitted infections including HIV and unwanted pregnancies.
“The two incidents involving Zalatex and Kohrs should not be allowed to impact negatively on the significant progress we have made in promoting condom use in the country,” she emphasised.
Also speaking to reporters, SABS Chief Operations Officer Pravin Semnarayan emphasised that additional measures had been put in place to ensure all condoms complied with international standards.
“The highest standards will be maintained in the testing of condoms in accordance with the World Health Organisation,” he assured. –