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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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Outcry over acute shortage of condoms

Acute shortage of condoms in Kenya as a group of health lobbies raises alarm 

The worrying condom shortage in Kenya has been highlighted with concern by a number of health advocacy groups.

The government can only supply 1.6 million condoms per month, despite the fact that the nation needs 455 million per year, according to the societies.

The lobbies include the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and other health-based Civil Societies.

To meet its annual condom needs, Kenya depends on international organizations like the Global Fund, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and other international contributors.

Up to 75 percent of financing for programs addressing HIV, TB, and malaria as well as 180 million free condoms per year are provided by international corporations.

 It is therefore concerning that the companies are gradually decreasing support for the program.

AHF Kenya and other health-based Civil Societies also believe heavy taxation of condoms continues to limit access to the commodity.

“This is despite rising cases of teenage pregnancy, HIV/Aids among the youth, and resurgence of sexually transmitted illnesses,” the group said.

Speaking ahead of the commemoration of World AIDS Day, Dr. Samuel Kinyanjui, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Kenya Country Director noted there is a gap of about 112 million condoms, which translates to a budgetary hole of about KES 38 million, at a unit cost of approximately KES 3.4 per condom.

“We are urging the government to come up with a mechanism for stemming the acute shortage of condoms that has now become routine. We are calling on the government to come up with modalities of bringing down the prevailing high taxes against those willing to step in and help the country restock,” said Dr. Kinyanjui.

He also emphasized that condoms must be viewed as an investment and not a cost. “Statistically, with enough condoms, the country will be saved from treating more than 800,000 newly infected persons in the next ten years, and up to 5.3 million unplanned pregnancies, 60 percent of which are teenage, will be averted,” he said, adding that the cost of treating one infected person every year is about KES 30,000 and this can be avoided.

In Bungoma, the acute shortage of condoms has led to skyrocketing rates of HIV/AIDS infection.

According to Fred Barasa, county AIDS control officer, many youth have failed to protect themselves against dreaded sexually transmitted infections such as HIV, and the women who can’t afford to buy condoms resort to recycling them after washing them, oblivious of the dangers involved.

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