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UN body blamed for condoms shortages

By | April 2nd 2011

By Elizabeth Mwai

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is in a spot over the shortage of condoms in the country.

Top Government officials are blaming the UN body for the crisis, citing slow delivery despite having entered into a supply contract with the Government over a year and half ago.

Sources from UNFPA said there is a problem within their procurement section and has been a concern for its top organ.

But its local assistant representative, Stephen Wanyee, yesterday defended the body against the accusation, saying their deliveries were on schedule.

"Money took time to come to our accounts from the World Bank, and there were changes the Government made such as requesting for branding, which further delayed the process," said Wanyee.

Signed deal

In an interview with The Standard on Saturday, the official said although the deal was signed in August 2009, the money was transferred 10 months later, which made their earlier schedule null and void.

At the same time, the Government put in a request for branding and pamphlets that meant they had to make additional changes before procuring.

Wanyee said procurement for condoms takes nine months and that is why they are coming in now.

However, other sources said despite the circumstances, the condoms were supposed to have arrived by December, last year, but to date less than 20 per cent of the commodity has arrived and, therefore, UNFPA has failed Kenya.

The critics said UNFPA has been handling many procurements globally and was overstretched, causing the delays.

But Wanyee maintained that their schedule, which the Government is also aware off, indicate the last consignment should arrive in May.

"There is no need of pointing fingers. As a country we need to focus on the fact that condom consumption has increased," said Wanyee.

When contacted by The Standard on Saturday, the National Aids and STD Control Programme Director Nicholas Muraguri confirmed the Government had requested a loan from World Bank, which included $12 million to purchase male and female condoms under the Total War Against Aids Programme.

Bulky nature

Muraguri said the money was split into two, with the first amount being earmarked to purchase 180 million condoms for a year.

He said the supplies in phase one were set to serve the country for a whole year during which the next amount of monies would be made available.

The Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (Kemsa) Chief Executive Officer, John Munyu, said they had capacity to warehouse and distribute the condoms once they arrive.

But he said due to the fact that condoms are bulky by nature, Kemsa often ensures they are quickly distributed once they arrive.

"In any case condoms are not brought in for warehousing, but Kemsa is just a transitory point," said Munyu.

He disclosed that the 19 million condoms, which had arrived in January, were distributed within four weeks to the areas where the relevant ministries had identified.

Munyu said there are distribution channels to health facilities and to district medical stores where they are further disbursed to non-governmental agencies.

He said there was need for prior quantification and forecasting in order for such shortages to be addressed and delivery to be made swiftly.

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