Counterfeit condom case rumbles on in Ghana

Be Safe condomsIt has emerged that as many as 25 million counterfeit and substandard condoms may have been distributed in Ghana under the auspices of a free government programme supported by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

The latest revelations concern the long-running saga over condoms supplied under the 'Be Safe' programme in Ghana, which turned out to be inferior quality and placed users at risk of unwanted pregnancies or sexually-transmitted infections.

Local media reports are claiming that Ghanaian company Global UniLink Ventures - which was responsible for importing the condoms under the terms of a multimillion-dollar government supply contract - sourced them not from Kenyan manufacturer Harley's as claimed but rather from a supplier in China.

A report on suggests the total number of condoms ordered by the government could be as much as 130 million, at a cost of some $6m, and claims shipments were cleared for import without the involvement of the country's Food and Drug Authority (FDA).  The procurement process for the condoms has also proved to be hard to dissect, despite the setting up of an investigation by Minister of Heath Sherry Ayittey.

The government is seeking a refund from Global UniLink Ventures, but that will be scant consolation to people who have to live with the consequences of using ineffective condoms.

Ghana's oversight of imported healthcare products came under scrutiny in October after allegations were levelled by the FDA at Indian drugmaker Bliss GVS Pharma and local distributor Tobinco Pharma that they had been distributing fake malaria drugs in the country.

The MoH and FDA have been trading increasingly acrimonious accusations in the wake of fake condom and antimalarial cases.

The MoH has announced an investigation into the handling of the Bliss incident - as well as the process of medicines registration - while the FDA has retorted that the probe is "self-indicting and embarrassing" as it is adhering to regulatory standards laid down by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Meanwhile, the FDA has issued a fresh warning of counterfeit antimalarial medicine circulating on the Ghanaian market.

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