Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | More than 30 million male and 173,000 female condoms are ready for distribution nationwide during Christmas and Boxing Day. Vastha Kibirige, the National Coordinator of the Condom Desk in the Health Ministry disclosed this to URN.
Unlike the usual stock out during the festive season, Kibirige says they planned early this time to address the overwhelming demand on the two exciting days. The communication comes a month after the National Drug Authority (NDA) ordered Marie topes Uganda to recall more than 3 million Lifeguard condoms from the market.
Laboratory tests had established that Lifeguard condoms were of poor quality and that they risked busting while others contained pores. Although the public is still skeptical about the safety of condoms, Kibirige explained that the available consignment was tested by the Joint Medical Stores (JMS) and confirmed safe before availing it for distribution.
She says they are alerting all-district condom desks, District Health Departments and community-based organisations to make orders through the JMS to get their consignment in time. According to her, in situations when demand increases, organisations such as Uganda Cares, DKT-International (Kiss Condoms) and among others have come in to fill the gap.
However, several districts in the Greater Masaka region are still complaining about the stock out. In Lyantonde and Kalungu districts, the condoms usually run out in few weeks due to the heavy presence of commercial sex workers and truck drivers.
Fred Kalumba, a senior nursing officer in charge of condom distribution in Lyantonde, says there’s a shortage of condoms in the meantime. He explains that the few available condoms are kept for high-risk groups mainly commercial sex workers and truck drivers.
Kalumba maintains that the demand is high for male condoms, adding that the uptake of female condoms is still low. In her response to the complaint, Kibirige explained that the condoms are distributed on orders. He appealed to all district departments to place their orders with JMS.
Condoms come third of the recommended strategies for prevention against HIV in Uganda. They come after Abstinence, Being faithful. UNAIDS statistics indicate that Uganda has 1,400,000 people living with HIV, 6 % being aged between 15 and 49 years. As of last year, 53 000 people got infected with HIV while 23,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses.
Last year, a condom crisis hit Greater Masaka Region. Health authorities and residents raised concerns fearing the scarcity may trigger more sexually transmitted infections. Lwengo, Kyotera, Lyantonde and, Kalungu districts were the most affected. In these districts, virtually all condom dispensers in different health centers are empty amid high demand.