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Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! - Politics - Nairaland

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Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by oyb(m): 8:26am On Nov 12, 2007

Banned in Ghana
A golden condom’s vicious circle
By Sun News Publishing
Saturday, November 10, 2007

If it is not good for Ghana, how can it be good for Nigeria? This is the puzzle over Gold Circle condom that has left not a few public health campaigners in the lurch.

Indeed, in what appears like part of an elaborate cover-up, the subject has eluded debate in traditional fora just as effective marketing strategies continue to push millions of the now controversial product into the hands of the vulnerable.

For anyone tracking efforts to roll-back the HIV/AIDS scourge in Nigeria, the question has become: Is the Gold Circle condom safe? Authorities in Ghana say no. On 20th July 2005, Ghana’s Food and Drugs Board (FDB) issued what it called “Consumer Alert on Gold Circle Brand of condom.”

The statement signed by the Board’s Chief Executive, Emmanuel Kyermanteng Agyarko reads in part: “The Food and Drugs Board wishes to inform the general public of the presence of some Gold circle condoms on the market which do not have adequate physical strength and therefore likely to break during use…”
The statement further reads: “The Board therefore directs that all pharmacies, licensed chemical shops and other outlets that have stocks of Gold circle brand of condoms should remove them from their shelves and return them to their sources of supply. A team of inspectors from FDB and pharmacy council are embarking on a nationwide inspection to flush out the product from the market and appropriate regulatory action will be taken against any facility that is found stocking and/or selling this brand of condoms…”
It warned that: “In view of this, the FDB has decided that with immediate effect, the importation, sale and use of the Gold Circle brand of condoms is banned.”
It was only a matter of time before the news of the ban filtered into Nigeria, but without a corresponding official statement to allay a budding public fears, the fidelity of the Gold Circle condom soon became a matter of concern. It became even more so when early this year, the Society for Family Health, (SFH) owners of the brand franchise in Nigeria, announced that a total of 127 million pieces of Gold circle condom have been distributed between January 2006 and January 2007.

Determined to get to the bottom of the story, Saturday Sun travelled to Accra. At the Ghana’s Food and Drugs Board the story of the Gold Circle condom was well known. Indeed, at a time, it was a matter of a crisis, triggered by what the authorities termed a floodgate of public complaints.

Public complaints in Ghana
James Yarnie Lartey, FDB’s Public Relations Officer, told Saturday Sun in Accra that after one complaint too many from Ghanaian consumers, the Board was compelled to take a serious look at Gold Circle, which in his words, was grossly defeating that country’s programmes on HIV/AIDS, Family Planning and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Taking this reporter through laboratory test results, Lartey said that specifically, three tests were conducted on the condom. They were: Air Inflation test, freedom of holes test and package test. The results showed that “majority” of Gold Circle failed the air inflation test. This is said to be a major cause of condoms tear during use. According to Lartey, such failures can only stem from inherent flaws.
It was gathered from the laboratory results that Gold Circle condom has one of the lowest burst scores. This means that when inflated, it did not reach the crucial 25 – litre mark before bursting.

The burst index, is calculated as the percentage of condoms, chosen at random, that inflated to at least 25 litres in air-burst test or air-inflation test. Condoms with a higher index should offer greater assurance against breakage during use. The FDA disclosed that Gold Circle had an overall burst-volume defect rate that exceeded tolerable percentage; adding that burst during use was the biggest gripe Ghanaian consumers had concerning the product.

Insisting that the FDA cannot assure Ghanaians of the safety of Gold circle, Lartey told Saturday Sun that the condom equally failed the freedom-of-holes test. In one variant of this test, condoms are tested for leaks by placing each on a charged metal form; then it is swept over by a soft conductive brush. Minute holes in the condom trip a circuitry that shunts many ‘leakers’ aside. In places where condoms are manufactured, inspectors are sent to factories unannounced.

They review production records and examine stocks at random, checking for cracked, moldy, dry or sticky rubber. The condoms could be tested using what is known as water-leakage test. In this procedure, inspectors pour 10 ounces of water into a condom, then press and roll it along blotter paper. If leaks turn up in the equivalent of more than 4 per 1,000 condoms in a run, the entire lot must be destroyed.
The Gold Circle condom is manufactured for Population Services International and packed in Nigeria by The Society for Family Health.

Lartey explained that the package, which is the case housing the rubber itself, must also be of standard quality. No thanks to poor package, ants are known to have found their ways into condoms. The Gold Circle was shown from the laboratory results to have failed this third test.
Months after the consumer alert, the FDB was forced to issue a disclaimer after it came to its notice that the condom was still being sold by some pharmacies and shops. Re-instating that it has not registered the condom and that “its safety and efficacy for protection against pregnancy, HIV-AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) cannot be guaranteed the Board, therefore, wishes to advice the general public to desist from patronizing Gold Circle condoms.”

Not only did the disclaimer contain physical descriptions for easy identification of the banned condom, it also said that the “surveillance unit of the Board is currently on the market to rid the product off the counter. Wholesalers and retailers are advised not to put the product for sales and those with stocks of the product are to submit them to the offices of the Board for safe disposal or return them to their sources of supply.”

The disclaimer further showed that the Board was “on the look-out for individuals and companies who smuggle the product into the Ghanaian market and serious regulatory sanctions will be taken against the companies involved.”

Not in the list
Providing an insight into the workings of the FDB, Lartey told Saturday Sun that every product registered is given a three-year duration after which the manufacturer applies for a renewal. For condoms, however, it is a different ball game. In view of its very nature, approvals are not given in years, rather in batches in what is called batch-to-batch test. After one batch, tests are carried out on the next batch before it can go into the market.
The list of condoms tested and approved for use in Ghana include Condomi ultra thin condoms, Condomi supersafe, Spicy love, Sure condom, Masculan I (smooth), Masculan 2 (Dotted), Natural safe sex condoms, Mister Big condoms, First love, Honeymoon sweet, Fair Blue Berry, Senorita, Durex Elite, Durex Ribbed and Casluv Premium Dotted. Others are Unilatex, cheers plain condoms, Durex select, Durex fetherlite, Durex Extrasafe, Durex Sensation, Durex performa, Durex Gossamer, Viva, U’n’ me, Champion, Bazuka, Panther, Protector gold plus, Sicco safety, Sico sensitive, Sico x-tra, Sico spermicide, Sico cutti fruit, Sicco Ribbed, Sicco Strawberry, Aganzi Wildfire and Aganzi classic. Gold Circle is not on the list.

Last year at a forum organised by Journalists Against Aids, the ban of the Gold Circle condom popped out in a group discussion. The thrust of the talk was the implication of a low-quality condom on the fight against HIV/AIDS. Months later, in another civil society gathering held in Abuja, the issue was re-echoed with anxious HIV/AIDS campaigners turning to Eric Pwadudura, Head of Communication and Public Relations, Ghana Aids Commission for any useful information.

The fear was understandable. The most recent statistics released January 2006 placed Nigeria as the second country, after India with the highest number of people living with HIV/AIDS. With 6.1 million people infected, heterosexual intercourse has been identified as the leading means of transmitting HIV in Nigeria. This obviously explains why advocacy for condom usage is a major component in the fight against the pandemic.

Not a few people working in the HIV/AIDS circle are quick to see the irony thrown up by the ban largely because the Gold Circle condom is touted by its marketers as a campaign product against HIV/AIDs. Indeed, the society for Family Health (SFH), only last January had cause to recount its activities as an NGO, saying that since its formation 20 years ago, it had remained focus on three major public health areas, namely HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health and family planing.

The SFH’s Managing Director, Mr Bright Ekweremadu, stated that the NGO’s activities and programmes were centered on improving the health of the less privileged and the vulnerable population of the country. “In everything we do, we target the poor and vulnerable, that is why all our products are mostly subsidised because we want to make sure they are affordable and accessible to all Nigerians.” At a mere N30 for a pack of four Gold circle condoms, no one can fault the organization’s chosen mandate. But if the results from Ghana’s laboratory are anything to go by, the alleged defects would have clearly defeated the HIV and Family Planning Objectives.

On Thursday, 25th October, Saturday Sun paid a visit to SFH’s Lagos office to seek explanation for what has been termed the misadventure of the Gold Circle in Ghana. The first shock was that even though the issue at hand had obvious implications on the lives of millions of Nigerians, the responses from SFH’s officials failed to mirror corresponding concerns and sensitivity. At the front office, even after this reporter had clearly stated his mission, the lady behind the desk still found it necessary to ask if the journalist had come to purchase condoms. It was to be the beginning of evasive responses that attended virtually every question on the ban of Gold circle in Ghana.
Among other things, the reporter wanted to establish if it was the same Gold Circle condom marketed here in Nigeria or a counterfeit of it that was rejected in Ghana. None of the officials would as much as volunteer their names, to say nothing of stating SFH’s official position on the matter. Eventually the reporter was ushered into an office to be attended to by a superior officer. She suggested the reporter travelled to Abuja to interview the company’s Managing Director who she said had once addressed the media on the matter. She declined to provide a copy of the press statement.

A third official, this time a male, walked in and confronted with the journalist’s presence, said something to the effect that the whole thing was politics. Asked to elaborate, he disclosed that the organisation has its own laboratory where batches of condoms are subjected to test. He agreed to the reporter’s request to see the lab.

Saturday Sun found three officials in white overall behind some machines. They were said to be from the Ministry of Health and had been deployed under an arrangement to run the lab. Every few seconds, one condom inflated like a ballon was bursting after another, inside a particular machine. Apparently what was going on was an air inflation test. One of the lab technicians answered in the affirmative. Alarmed by the rate the condoms were bursting, it was explained that what was going on was “test by destruction.” It was further explained that the test was not meant to see if the condoms would burst, rather to determine the maximum pressure it could take.
Elsewhere, such tests which destroy the condoms being examined, can be used only to spot-check a batch of condoms, not to check individual condoms before packaging and sale.

When this fact was pointed out by the reporter, nobody in the lab could provide answer as to what happens to the few faulty condoms that inevitably slip through the batch test to the market. The question on the acceptable burst index or when, if ever, can the decision be taken for an entire batch to be destroyed, also met with a rebuff. The Ministry official was beginning to say something when the SFH woman interrupted. Clapping her hands in exasperation, she ordered the reporter out of the lab. She made it clear that nothing more would be said until the reporter returned some other time with a letter from his office.

Later, a reaction from Mr. Bright Ekweremadu was forwarded to Saturday Sun. It read: “The fact of the matter is that the condom market in Ghana which is controlled by the Ghana Social Marketing Foundation (GSMF) was threatened by the insurgence of Gold Circle from Nigeria. Gold Circle is not registered in Ghana and this is deliberate as we are not allowed to distribute any of our products outside Nigeria since they are donated for the use of Nigeria people. GSMF found it very convenient to work with the equivalent of their NADFAC to place a ban on Gold Circle because it is not registered in Ghana, and not because of any quality issue.”

When Saturday Sun contacted NAFDAC PRO in Lagos, Mrs Christiana Obiazikwor, she referred the reporter to Mr. Abubakar Jimoh, NAFDAC’s Head of PROs in Abuja. He first pleaded for time to get the necessary information. Finally, he referred Saturday Sun to NAFDAC’s Director of Regulations Affairs, Mr. Asemota. But all efforts to reach the Diretor yielded no result.

To HIV and Family Planning campaigners, the controversy surrounding the fidelity of the Gold circle condom is a huge blow and added barrier to condom usage in Nigeria. Margaret Oyakhire, Project Director, Community Health Rights Project, told Saturday Sun that it is the right of the people, especially the vulnerable group to protect themselves against STDs and HIV/AIDS.

“The most effective way of protecting yourself is by having protected sex through the use of condoms. For years we’ve focused on high risk groups and these include truck drivers, soldiers, prostitutes and students. It is difficult enough to cultivate the condom culture in Nigeria, now people are going to have more excuses, saying that condoms are not reliable. And the cheapest and most available condom in Nigeria is the Gold circle.”

Till now, religious and cultural factors have discouraged the use of condoms in Nigeria. Margaret catalogued other factors impeding condom use to include such reasons that it does not give the desired sexual satisfaction, makes sexual intercourse boring, causes one’s partner to have lack of trust, embarrassment in buying a condom, and generally makes sexual intercourse messy.
Thrown into the mix is the crackdown on condom advertisers by the Advertising Practitioners Council of Nigeria (APCON), the statutory body charged with vetting and approving advertisements.

Worried that advertising condoms could promote promiscuity, APCON has tightened the screw with new requirements that condom adverts may not be aired on children’s programmes, before 8p.m on radio and television, or displayed on billboards near places of worship, schools and hospitals. HIV/AIDS activists argue that the measure is counterproductive to the success achieved in promoting the use of condoms, insisting that a large number of young people are finding it difficult to abstain from sex.
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by lilvonz(m): 3:21pm On Aug 16, 2009
understood smiley
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by Nobody: 6:51pm On Aug 16, 2009
If you're too cheap to buy TROJAN, you are too cheap to have SEX. Gold circle ko, rectangular circle ni.
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by sjeezy8: 7:32pm On Aug 16, 2009
are they talkin about magnums lol
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by bawomolo(m): 8:04pm On Aug 16, 2009

If you're too cheap to buy TROJAN, you are too cheap to have SEX. Gold circle ko, rectangular circle ni.

rough ryder ko?
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by C2H5OH(f): 8:06pm On Aug 16, 2009
gold circle condom? abeg na my own o.
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by ModestSam(m): 2:23am On Aug 30, 2009
This is just another example of how incompetent our so-called leaders are.

If you're too cheap to buy TROJAN, you are too cheap to have SEX. Gold circle ko, rectangular circle ni.
Are you insinuating that the poor shouldn't have sex?
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by qblaze(m): 12:02pm On Aug 30, 2009
Why should the poor have sex when they haven't solved their basic problems of food, clothing and shelter? But no, they screw like rabbits and create ghettos and shantytowns everywhere.
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by slimes(m): 11:20am On Oct 14, 2009
The poor take respite in their wives and the result-a football team at least.
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by Nobody: 7:23pm On Sep 09, 2010
Pls what's the brand of condom that is good and safe to use. Also, where can i get good condoms Lagos?
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by slap1(m): 8:25pm On Sep 09, 2010
Not my biz for now. . .
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by Bluetooth2: 8:51pm On Sep 09, 2010

Pls what's the brand of condom that is good and safe to use. Also, where can i get good condoms Lagos?
life's a one chance stuff. . .so enjoy it while it last without a condom.
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by EzeUche22(m): 8:55pm On Sep 09, 2010
Can't get the same pleasure with a condom on when I am driving without a helmet.

It is very pleasurable so no need to wear a hat. Just do not date tramps.
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by KnowAll(m): 12:27am On Sep 10, 2010
[size=14pt]20 replys, 4010 views,  shocked the number of people whose lives rely on this sh**t is amazing, my take is be loyal to your one and only and safe yourself a lot of hassle.  [/size]
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by revomind(m): 5:35am On Sep 10, 2010
Don't date tramps and stay faithful.
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by Pukkah: 2:30pm On Sep 10, 2010
So most of the people who used the defective products were not protected?
Re: Beware Of Gold Circle Condoms! by bawomolo(m): 2:36pm On Sep 10, 2010

Can't get the same pleasure with a condom on when I am driving without a helmet.

It is very pleasurable so no need to wear a hat. Just do not date tramps.

because only tramps have std's

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