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Group raises red flag over looming condom shortage in the country

Updated Wednesday, November 6th 2013 at 00:00 GMT +3

By Rawlings Otieno

Kenya: The war against HIV and Aids will be seriously hampered in the face of a looming shortage of condoms in the country.

The National Empowerment Network for People Living with HIV and Aids in Kenya (NephaK) is raising the red flag that government’s effort in reducing new HIV infections could be hit if the shortage is not addressed.

The group now wants President Uhuru Kenyatta to give a directive to the National Treasury to do a supplementary budget to procure the prophylactics that will soon run out of stock.

Small budgets

They also want the State Department for Health headed by James Macharia not to continue directing County Directors of Health to do small budgets to procure the condoms.

“Health cannot entirely be devolved to the counties. There is a looming crisis and if nothing is done before the end of December, then there is high risk of increased HIV infections,” said Nephal Executive Director Nelson Otwoma.

The shortage therefore means that Kenya’s sexually active persons will be forced to abstain or seek alternative means of protection against HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) if they cannot abstain.

Affordable condoms

It also means that sex will now become a luxury for the majority of people who cannot afford a meal and cannot afford to purchase condoms at chemists or supermarkets.

According to Otwoma, Kenya currently procures a total of 83 million male condoms annually, a stock that will end next month and no condoms have been procured yet.

He further paints a grim picture that the scenario could extend from January to July when more condoms would be expected should the Global Fund agree to purchase the most sought commodity in the fight against the dreaded killer virus.

But Otwoma places the crisis squarely on the Office of the President to change the situation by seeking first hand solutions to the looming crisis.

Statistics on Hiv

According to National Aids Control Council statistics, at least 1.6 million Kenyans are living with HIV with 100,000 new infections yearly. “It is our quest to engage all levels of authority, to address this issue and avert a national crisis,” said Otwoma.

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