‘Big holes in Lesotho’s condom strategy’

‘Big holes in Lesotho’s condom strategy’

MASERU – WITH no oversight over quality, Lesotho’s men are venturing into the dark each time they wear a condom.
Some are too small, yet others are oversized – a quandary that local men have to grapple with until the government adopts serious oversight measures over condom quality, said specialist, Holo Machonda.
He said there is a big hole in Lesotho’s condom strategy, especially the lack of requisite quality testing mechanisms. He called for a quick review of the situation.
“There are no condom regulations, no inspection and no mechanism that checks the types, sizes and quality of condoms,” said Machonda.

Machonda, a consultant engaged to work on the country’s condom strategy, was speaking at the Validation of the Lesotho National Condom Strategy last Thursday.
“Some people say they use condoms but they are not of their size,” Machonda said.
“The issue of regulation is a big issue because you need to know that you are providing condoms that are usable.”
A regulatory authority would go a long way to ensure condom standards, said Machonda.
“Lesotho cannot always rely on the products approved outside its borders,” Machonda said.
“There is clearly a problem on how we are procuring condoms and how we register condoms that are not for free but are sold at retail stores,” he said.

He also talked about so-called free condoms, saying: “If it comes free someone is paying for it, it could be UNFPA or the government”.
The price is the same as the commercial condom except that it is less branded, less appealing but the margins are very little, said Machonda.
Machonda read out the consultation results from the supply side of the development of the strategy.
He highlighted that Tripharm, a pharmaceutical company, has an interest in selling “socially marketed” condoms and does not mind buying free condoms, but the law does not allow for such actions.
“It would be easy for us to track consumption through the network of our outlets,” he quoted Tripharm as saying.

“And this is so true, Tripharm was able to give a record of the number of condoms it sold in 2019 and it does not give this record to the public because no one has asked them to,” said Machonda.
He said some of the interviewees who used condoms complained that “these free silver condoms smell like rubber and do not have a good reputation”.
“People think because it is free, it is bad. The smell, touch and packaging can change the perception of people towards free condoms.”
Some say that the condoms are too small and make it difficult for ejaculation, he said.

Rose Moremoholo


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