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UN gives 73m condoms to end shortage

BUSINESS
By | March 30th 2011

By Harold Ayodo

United Nations has dispatched a consignment of 73 million condoms to address the contraceptive’s shortage in Kenya.

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) deputy representative Alexander Ilyin said 34 million condoms will arrive on April 8 in Mombasa.

"The ship with the contraceptives is already on voyage to the port of Mombasa while the second one will dock with 39 million condoms on May 11," Ilyin said.

He said the two consignments were part of an emergency response to the current shortage of free condoms in some parts of the country.

UNFPA dispatched the contraceptives after Public Health Minister Beth Mugo appealed to the US for support to procure 45 million condoms in the next two months. Mugo said the country faced condom shortage following increased demand, which has hit 20 million monthly.

The minister confirmed an increased demand, saying the Government had failed in its projection while procuring the commodity.

Prompt action

"The UN is concerned about dire consequences to humanity following the shortage of contraceptives...we had to act fast to salvage the situation," Ilyin said.

The consignments were dispatched ahead of a visit to Kenya by UNFPA Executive Director Babatunde Osotimehin on Sunday.

Ilyin, who was speaking to journalists during a media breakfast at a Nairobi hotel, said several reasons caused the shortage.

"The population is more educated – through the media – over the advantages of contraceptives, which has increased demand," he said.

Ilyin said the shortage of free condoms was worse in rural areas.

"The reality is the demand for the contraceptive is growing too fast that the supply chain cannot cope," he said.

According the Government of Kenya and the UNFPA Action Plan 2009-2013, the population is expected to hit 42.4 next year.

Government figures show the total fertility rate per women reduced from 6.7 to 4.8 children between 1989 and 2003.

"We (UNFPA) remain committed to working with the Government of Kenya towards provision of contraceptives towards reproductive health," Ilyin said.

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