There are fears that the coronavirus pandemic will lead to a shortage of condoms globally after the world’s largest condom manufacturer was forced to shutdown as part of measures aimed at curtailing the spread of Covid-19.
The looming shortage of condoms which have been described as “an essential to have” will have negative consequences on the fight against the spread of HIV in countries with a higher HIV prevalence rate like Malawi as well as family planning efforts.
The world’s biggest producer, Karex Bhd, which is based in Malaysia warned of a looming shortage of condoms after the company was forced to suspend production due to a lockdown order imposed by the Mayasian government to halt the spread of the virus.
The company makes one in every five condoms globally. However, the company has not produced a single condom from its factories in Malaysia in the past 10 days which has lead to a shortfall of 100 million condoms globally, a Reuters’ report has claimed.
“We are going to see a global shortage of condoms everywhere, which is going to be scary,” Karex Chief Executive Goh Miah Kiat told Reuters, warning the “shortage is likely to run into months.”
Karex Bhd condoms are normally marketed internationally by brands such as Durex and supplied to state healthcare systems and Malawi’s sexual and reproductive health organisations such as UN Population Fund (UNFPA).
Goh described condoms “an essential to have” and appealed to the Malaysian government to approve the company’s request to resume production in some of its factories.
The shortage is likely to have a significant impact on the fight against the spread of HIV in countries like Malawi with people resorting to unprotected sex which is the primary means through which HIV is transmitted.
Malaysia is one of the worst affected in South-East Asia, with 2,161 coronavirus infections and 26 deaths.
Other major condom-producing countries are China, where the coronavirus originated and led to widespread factory shutdowns, and India and Thailand, which are seeing infections spiking only now.
Other countries to be affected include South Africa whose HIV prevalence rate is at over 20%. The countries is currently on a 21-day lockdown.
The shortage will also impact family planning efforts.