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Surprising global shortage that could be ‘devastating’

This shortage could be devastating for developing countries. Image: Getty

As factories around the world shut down, the United Nations is warning of a potentially “devastating” shortage of condoms.

Malaysia is one of the world’s biggest rubber producers but has shuttered factories to stop the spread of the lethal coronavirus. 

And its restrictions mean contraceptive firm Karex, which makes around 20 per cent of all condoms in the world, will make around 200 million fewer condoms than usual between mid-March and mid-April. 

The company makes 5 billion condoms a year and ships them to more than 140 countries, supplying brands including Durex and for government programs and organisations like the United Nations Population Fund. 

In a statement to Yahoo Finance, Durex said its supplies have not been affected.

“Durex would like to confirm that all of our operations are working as normal and we are not experiencing any supply shortages.”

It’s not just Karex, other producers will also face transport challenges, Karex chief executive Goh Miah Kiat told AFP. 

"The world will definitely see a condom shortage," Goh said.

"It's challenging, but we are trying our best right now to do whatever we can. It is definitely a major concern - condom is an essential medical device.”

He said the importance of access to contraceptives can’t be overlooked as the fight against coronavirus continues, expressing concern about supplies in developing nations. 

“My concern is that for a lot of humanitarian programs deep down in Africa, the shortage will not just be two weeks or a month. That shortage can run into months,” he told Reuters.

The United Nations has also warned of the risk a condom shortage poses, as it faces a shortfall of between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of its usual supply.

"A shortage of condoms, or any contraceptive, could lead to an increase in unintended pregnancies, with potentially devastating health and social consequences for adolescent girls, women and their partners and families," a spokesperson said.

“Border closings and other restrictive measures are affecting transportation and production in a number of countries and regions.”

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