Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The country is getting fewer condoms than what is needed, activists complained on Tuesday calling for more local funding for the contraceptive and HIV prevention method.
The activists who were speaking at the release of an assessment report of condom stock status and funding in Uganda expressed concerns that all the USD 14 million (about 51.3 billion Shillings) that has been spent on condom procurement in the last three years was provided by donors.
Dr Denis Kibira who conducted the assessment said he analyzed quantification reports by the Ministry of Health between 2016 to 2019 and found the gap between the need and supply to be at 27 percent.
Kibira who is also executive director of local NGO HEPs Uganda said only 6 million female and 430 million male condoms were delivered in that period by the donors which is short of the need.
However, the deliveries don’t necessarily mean use as the country has been struggling to revamp condom use with figures on use going down in recent years. For the female condom for instance, Kibira noted that when he compared the stocks with what leaves the facilities, there were huge disparities.
He said reporting on condom consumption in the health facilities is also low. They found 17 million pieces released from the warehouses monthly but only 2 million can be accounted for as dispensed.
This revelation however confirms figures put out earlier by the Uganda AIDS Commission where they reported very low uptake of the female condom and only 9 percent of men aged 40 to 49 years reporting to have used a condom when they engaged in extramarital sex. These figures have continuously been going down since 2000 when condom use was rated at 38 percent. By 2018, this rate had gone down to 24 percent.
Now activists commenting on the assessment report today called for a change in promotion strategy for the condom as well as ensuring quality with recent complaints of the market being infiltrated with ineffective products. They noted that the free condoms that are being supplied currently in a hot pink colour are no longer ‘sexy’ for especially young people.
Recommending a client satisfaction survey, Kenneth Wafula Buyinza, who heads clinical services at Reproductive Health Uganda said answers to why exactly condom use is going down with a cocktail of brands on the market will only be got by doing a market check. For him, they can only tell what can be changed about the free hot pink condom with data.
Commenting on the assessment, Vastha Kibirige, who coordinates the Condom Unit at the Ministry of Health said they are challenged by the fact that the government free condoms received by the people are not targeted revealing finding them in big hotels in Kampala yet they are meant for those that can’t afford.
She said full-throttle reporting and increasing uptake of condom use will happen when a condom strategy that is now in the editing stage is put to use. However, activists noted all-time condom availability can’t be guaranteed with the programme being 100 percent donor-funded.
The Global Fund has already paid for a supply of 400 million condoms for 2020. With this batch, they say even as other countries now fear of shortages caused by COVID-19 lockdowns, Uganda will be on a safe side.