Thursday, October 25, 2007

The South African Rubber Scandal

Only in South Africa, a place where one sometimes can believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast, or a place where Urban Legends are actually true!

Herewith a rough translation from a Swedish Newspaper article dated October 25th: (It is not known whether these things were reported in the South African media at the time.)

For the second time within an embarrassingly short space of time, the South African Ministry of Health has been forced to withdraw from the market no less than 5 million condoms. The rubber used was simply not up to standard and the weasel went “pop” on a regular basis. One can only imagine the anger, surprise and horror amongst those using these defect “safety measures.”

But to say that the condoms were withdrawn from “the market” is a bit of a misnomer. Most, if not all, were handed out for free at clinics, hospitals and places of employment in a somewhat futile exercise to prevent unwanted pregnancies and the spreading of HIV.

The previous incident where condoms proved to be of a much too poor quality to actually use occurred in August this year. A corrupt official at the South Africa control-board neglected the recommendations and rules as set up by the World Health Organisation and ISO. For an undisclosed fee this official turned a blind eye to all the control mechanisms and evidence of inferior quality. (No evidence of the prosecution of this individual or the manufacturer for premeditated mass-murder can be found either.)

The Government has placed an order with 8 different companies for 850 million condoms for the next two years. The deal is said to be worth some R180 million.

One can only hope that these somewhat mind-boggling series of events involving condoms won’t take us back to what happened in 1999. The Government distributed free condoms with a leaflet describing how to use them. Good thought, disastrous result. Why? For one simple reason; the condom had been stapled together with the leaflet, causing ready made holes in the condoms. It is rumoured that the Minister of Health was embarrassed over the fiasco.

She has all the reason in the world to continue being embarrassed as the Ministry of Health still can’t provide a reliable piece of rubber in a country that suffers 400 000 AIDS mortalities annually.

No comments: