SA launches new condom manufacturing plant
By NJABULO BETHELEZI in Durban
DURBAN, (CAJ News) – SOUTH Africa has stepped up the fight against HIV with the official launch of the province’s new multi-million rand condom manufacturing plant in Durban.
A first for the KwaZulu-Natal province and only the second one in the country, the factory will be situated at the Dube Trade Port’s Special Economic Zone, next to the King Shaka International Airport.
Over 140 local jobs will be created and skills transfer encouraged at this project launched in the sidelines of the International AIDs Conference.
The province aims to distribute at least 212 million free condoms each financial year, in its bid to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS infections.
When fully functional, the new factory will produce no fewer than 700 000 condoms per day, some of which will be exported to other African states.
KwaZulu-Natal Health Member of the Executive Committee, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, has hailed the facility as a significant step in government’s quest to reduce the spread of infections in the province while increasing life expectancy.
“We are very pleased that the plan to build a condom manufacturing plant in KZN – a place that needs it most because of the pandemic of HIV – has come to fruition,” Dhlomo said.
He said he would call upon condom manufacturers to consider lowering the price of female condoms, which are currently ten times more expensive than male condoms.
“The price of female condoms makes them inaccessible because they’re expensive,” he said.
“The brunt of HIV and Aids is heavier on females than it is for males. So, if you were able to make female condoms more easily accessible, you begin to empower women because the tools to ensure their sexual health are still skewed against them.”
MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, said the KwaZulu-Natal Growth Fund had played a leading role in assisting the project promoters with the structuring of the transaction.
In March 2016, the KZN Growth Fund approved R42,5 million debt funding towards the setting up of the facility. This resulted in the KZN Growth Fund being the only funder to the project.
HBM-SA Health Protection Services has invested R150 million in the project.
– CAJ News
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