The closure of many means of production could lead to a worldwide shortage of condoms that might prove “disastrous,” according to the United Nations.
The warning comes from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) which is concerned with reproductive and sexual health, and which reports that it has itself only been able to obtain 50-60% of its usual orders of condoms, because of the disruption of industrial channels caused by the coronavirus.
“The closure of borders and other restrictive measures have upset production and transport in a number of regions and countries,” a spokesperson for the Fund said.
The Fund finds itself unable to deliver supplies to family planning programmes on the ground, among the poorest and most vulnerable populations, as existing stocks of condoms run out.
One of the key countries is Malaysia, a major producer of rubber, and home to Karex, which produces one in five of all condoms used in the world.
The company expects production to be down by 200 million units for the period from mid-March to mid-April.
“The world will surely be facing a shortage of condoms,” said the company’s executive director Goh Miah Kiat. “This is a major problem, since condoms are a first-line health product.”
“A shortage of condoms and other contraceptives could lead to an increase in unwanted pregnancies, with disastrous consequences for the health and well-being of adolescents, women and their partners and families,” a UN spokesperson said.