Quality analysis of male latex condoms available in private and public facilities in Lusaka, Zambia – a comparative study
Background: The presence of poor quality condoms on the market has posed a serious challenge in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Quality, especially poor quality, affects popular perception of the value of condoms, which can in turn have a major impact on the success of prevention program. Condoms need to be of high quality especially when they are available for use to the public. If condoms have holes or break during use, they are no longer effective in preventing pregnancies and STIs including HIV. These structural flaws could be due to deficient manufacturer production standards or procedures. While many manufacturers routinely test their products, this is not always the case. Another possibility is that condoms could be of high quality when acquired by a national AIDS programme, but deteriorate due to conditions during transport or storage. Many environmental factors can also affect the quality of condoms. A comparative study was design to assess quality of condoms by comparing the physical parameters, packaging and labeling standards of the condoms from retail outlets and the Service Delivery Points in accordance with the Standards as Prescribed in the official monographs.
Methods: 4 batches of condoms from public and 4 from private outlets were collected. From each batch, physical inspection was conducted and information was extracted. All the 8 batches were then exposed to lab tests according to the standard specification. From each batch, 315 pieces of condoms were exposed to freedom from holes tests, 30 pieces to package seal integrity tests, 15 to lubricant quantity test, 39 pieces to dimension tests and 315 to air bursting pressure and volume.
Results: This study shows that the prevalence of quality of male latex condoms available in private and public facilities of Lusaka Urban District is 98.77%. The study also shows that compliance of condom samples to physical parameter requirements, packaging and labeling standards are similar.
Conclusion: Male latex condoms available in private and public facilities of Lusaka Urban District of Zambia do not differ in meeting the standard specifications for quality.