By Mable Nakibuuka
The management of Marie Stopes Uganda, who are the suppliers of Life Guard condoms and other sexual reproductive health care services, are trapped in untold panic after hearing of the case in which the company was sued for importing and selling defective Life Guard condoms in Uganda kicked off on Tuesday December 1st, 2020.
This comes after the management of Marie Stopes was sued together with the Attorney General and National Drug Authority for knowingly distributing and selling defective Life Guard condoms to unsuspecting Ugandans, many of who contracted Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), while others got unwanted pregnancies.
The case hearing kicked off on Tuesday although it was adjourned to December 16th, 2020 by High Court Justice Musa Sekaana because counsel for both Marie Stopes and the Attorney General had not filed their defence.
This Human Interest case was filed by rights activists under the Enforcement of Patients and Workers Rights (EPHWOR), on behalf of the affected Ugandans who include Joseph Kintu and others, who accuse Marie Stopes Uganda and the National Drug Authority (NDA) of allowing the sale of Life Guard condoms to the public, well-knowing that they were defective and would endanger the lives of very many innocent Ugandans.
The aggrieved parties in the case, who include Kintu and several Ugandans who suffered the consequences of using the defective condoms, contend that the act of illegally and negligently putting the said condoms on market without post shipment laboratory testing by National Drug Authority (NDA) was a violation to life and human dignity guaranteed under objectives v, xiv,xx, Articles 22, 8A, 45 and 24 of the constitution of Uganda.
The affected Ugandans thus pray to court to order Marie Stopes to conduct an audit to ascertain the level of damage caused to the users and compensate them respectively, on top of recalling and disposing off all the defective condoms that are currently on the market.
The applicants’ petition reads in part thus; “The 2nd Respondent (NDA) be directed to revoke the 1st Respondent (Marie Stopes) in relation to importation and distribution of condoms due to contravention of the mandatory post shipment testing of imported Life Guard Condoms Batch number 19040205 and 19050105 before releasing them for distribution and use.”
They also prayed to court to compel the respondents (Marie Stopes and Others) to conduct mass media campaigns about the dangers of defective condoms on top of ordering them to pay for mass testing of all people who used their condoms and thereafter those who will be found to have contracted sexually Transmitted Diseases to be treated at no cost.
While responding to the case filed in court, David Nahamya, the Company Secretary of NDA, said in his affidavit that the Authority tested samples the contentious condoms and on finding them defective, informed Marie Stopes about the same, but were shocked to discover later that the company had gone ahead to distribute the defective condoms on the market.
“I wish to categorically state that subject condoms vide batch 19050105 and 19040205 were subjected to a mandatory quality testing and analysis by the second Respondent (NDA) and
Nahamya’s affidavit tendered in court reads in that; “That, on the 31st July 2019, vide analysis request form QC 0112-19/20, the taken-out samples from the life guard condoms batch number 19050105, were sent to the 2nd Respondent for testing. Quality Control Laboratory for testing and analysis.
On the 16th September 2019, vide letter Ref. No. 237/1D-R/NDA/09/19, the 2nd Respondent duly communicated the test and analysis results vide QC 0113-19/20 to the 1st Respondent.
To the 2nd Respondent’s surprise and shock however, during the 2nd Respondent’s routine post market surveillance exercise, it was discovered that, whereas the life guard condoms, batch number 19050105 had failed the burst properties quality test, the same had been distributed by the 1st Respondent and were already on the market.
In exercise of its statutory mandate, the 2nd Respondent, on the 30th October 2019, vide Recall Notice Ref. No. 732/NDA/DPS/10/2019, following the laid down recall procedures immediately informed the 1st Respondent of the decision to recall the defective batches and being a Class A Recall, further tasked the 1st Respondent to conduct the recall to retail level and submit the report within two weeks…”
On his part, Dr. Amon Aruho, the EPHWOR lawyer who represents the applicants, said that they will continue pushing the case to ensure that Ugandans who suffered health problems as a result of using the defective Life Guard condoms get justice and to ensure that Marie Stopes recalls all defective condoms from the market so as to protect the public from the defective condoms.
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