BULAWAYO is suffering from “a short supply” of Protector Plus condoms and the sudden disappearance from the shelves and streets of the number one selling condom in Zimbabwe is affecting vendors.
The shortage comes barely two weeks after the city played host to the 58th edition of the international trade showcase, Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
New flavoured Protector Plus condoms with a sleeker and more stylish packaging in three flavours, strawberry, banana, and vanilla, have been popular since their introduction on the market when they replaced the old Protector
Plus condoms whose packaging featured a happy couple.
During interviews with numerous vendors who sell condoms outside night clubs and beer halls, where they target patrons who have been drinking, they were complaining that the flavoured condoms are reportedly on demand because of their affordability and unique scent and are now scarce.
Vendors claimed most patrons leaving the pub prefer to buy condoms from them, mostly Protector Plus instead of the clubs and pharmacies where they are “expensive”.
From the clubs and pharmacies a pack of three condoms especially Carex costs between $2 and $3 while Protector Plus is being sold by vendors for between 0.50 and $1.
“I can confirm that Protector Plus condoms are in short supply and people are actually in a dilemma. The flavoured condoms range is extremely popular and is also affordable so much that the service providers are unable to keep up with demand.
“Currently where we are getting them from they are out of stock. I am afraid that the shortage, if it continues, can lead to unwanted pregnancies and contracting of sexually transmitted diseases since most of the times people, especially those leaving clubs, would be looking for them on their way home,” said a vendor who identified himself as Diva.
Another vendor Admire Panganai said Protector Plus condoms were in great demand because people doubted the safety of the free condoms and believed they may be “rejects”.
“People always complain that they experience an allergic reaction whenever they use free condoms especially maDeMbare, the free blue condoms (blue like the Dynamos football club uniform) make them develop rash.
“They don’t trust these condoms because they are suspicious of anything that is given for free. That is why they would rather buy from us for $1 than even going to the supermarkets or pharmacies where a packet costs between $2 and $3,” he said.
An official with the Ministry of Health and Child Care who preferred anonymity for professional reasons attributed the “shortage” to the procurement process.
The official said there might be delays with an organisation such as Population Services International-Zimbabwe that deals with the social marketing and distribution of condoms since they needed to first test and certify whether the condoms meet set standards before they can be distributed.
Meanwhile, director of social marketing at Population Services International-Zimbabwe, Kumbirai Chatora said they had not yet received reports of Protector Plus shortage in Bulawayo.
He, however, said the packaging for Protector Plus had received a major facelift, making it more vibrant and attractive with tamper evident proof to enhance quality of the product while adding that the new packaging features some graphic elements designed to make sex more fun and pleasurable for the user.
According to PSI-Zimbabwe over 28 million condoms are distributed annually through private sector channels and workplaces. About 28 percent of all condoms distributed in the country are Protector Plus.